How to Pick the Best Lunch Box

From tips to tricks to recipes, we want to make it easier for you to eat better and feel better at work. But we never talk about the lunch box itself. This month, we’re going to change that! Here’s everything you need to know about the lunch box, a list of my all-time personal favorites, and some thoughts on what makes each one great for you!

A Brief History

The first lunch box was seen in America in the 1880s. These early variants were often repurposed items such as empty tobacco tins or old cookie jars. By the 1920s, the lunch pail had become popular among younger members of the working class. When the face of Mickey Mouse first started appearing on lunch box lids, in 1935, the deal was sealed. Americans had a perfect new way to express their individuality while serving the most utilitarian of tasks. 100 years later, through metal and plastic and soft sided containers, the lunch box market has grown into a worldwide industry worth almost six billion dollars!

My All-Time Top 5 Lunchboxes

Igloo Playmate (Boss)

For more than 50 years, Igloo’s Playmate series has set the standard for personal coolers in terms of combining quality, price, performance, and durability to provide true value. This is the cooler your dad already has (and probably has longer than he’s had you). It comes in a variety of sizes to ensure you can find the perfect one to hold everything you need, from food to beverages to ice packs to paperwork! I really love the new Boss model for extra durability onsite too.

Stanley Heritage

This is for the coffee and soup fans on your shift. Stanley is better known for their Thermos-style mugs and jugs but they’ve been making coolers for a long time too. Their line is small but well made and proven in the field. I prefer their Heritage model because it combines their simple flat lid cooler with a 1.1 QT Vacuum Bottle that locks in place for transport. It’s the perfect pairing to make sure you have enough caffeine on hand to make it to lunch and that your food is still fresh once you get there!

Coleman Coolers

Coleman’s entire lineup of coolers is THE choice when price point matters most. This brand may be aimed more at the camping crowd than 9 to 5ers but they’ve been in the cooler business as long as Igloo and have the same classic styling as Stanley. Also, their products are normally around half the price of the other guys! I like everything they make but you’ll get the most bang for your buck with this three-piece combo.

Classic Aladdins

Since they created the first children’s lunch box based on the TV show Hopalong Cassidy, in 1950, Aladdin has become an icon of practical personalization. We all need to eat lunch but Aladdin’s (and their competitors’ lines) let us do so while showing the world, or just our shift, what we really care about. They also put a child size Thermos RIGHT IN THE BOX so a generation of kids could take their Campbell’s soup the same way dad took his Folgers. A lunch box can’t get more “All Time” than that! I personally prefer the blue Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles model I started with in the 1980s, but classic and current models can all be found online today.

Klein Tools Tradesmen Pro

This is the only “new” cooler to make my list. They may not have the history of brands previously mentioned, but they’ve built a better product. Good capacity, tremendously durable, transportable, feature rich, and still easy to clean, this cooler is hard to beat. Rated to hold up to 300 pounds, it’s one of the few coolers that can truly (and safely) function as a stool or step ladder onsite too. Plain and simple, no lunch box on the market is more suited to life on a job site.

I hope this helps you find a better lunch box, or at least helped you find out why you love the one you’ve got already. Regardless, if you found something to sink your teeth into, you might want to learn a little more about the history of the lunch box. Either way, keep in mind – we are always open to new ideas. If you have a recipe, tip, or trick you’d like to share, we’d love to spread the word for you. Please send any and all of your own hacks to and keep an eye out for more future hacks, too.