Here's How Much Your Vintage Lunch Boxes Could Be Worth Now

Back To School: three words that strike dread and ennui into a child's heart after a summer of swimming, ice cream cones, and long days playing with friends. But people of a certain age recall the bright spot of back-to-school shopping: finding that perfect metal lunch box could really enhance a child's (in today's parlance) brand. Strutting into the cafeteria, eschewing the hot lunch line, and making sure your friends saw this year's snack-and-sandwich carrier before setting it down with a flourish could set the tone for the whole school year. "I didn't know you were into The Beatles!" one friend might exclaim, adding, "My parents won't let me listen to them. They say it's just noise and rock 'n' roll's never gonna last." Suddenly, you're a cultural vanguard. Modern. Wizened. Everyone knows you're the school's biggest music fan, and even your red grapes taste sweeter.

In the last 55 years, let's hope you didn't chip the paint too badly or throw that 1966 Beatles lunch box and its thermos in a landfill, because it could get you a cool $1,550, according to Work and Money. (An article posted in 2016 at MeTV suggests a somewhat more affordable $700.) A "Star Trek" model from 1968 has a similar price tag, and a confusingly generic "Knights In Armor" nets a couple hundred dollars more at $1,750. Apparently, America was so enthralled with tales of courtly knights that the lunch box featuring an unknown, be-armored guy on horseback, presumably about to joust, was a big hit with kids.

Obscurity pays (as does Superman)

In 1935, an oval "lunch kit" featured early versions of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy (the dog) taking Pluto (also a dog) for a walk. These only cost 10 to 20 cents at the time, but since this was during The Great Depression, most people were struggling to find food, let alone something cute to carry it in. These days the lunch kits can get around $2,350, and are much sought-after, reports Work and Money.

And proving that obscurity can yield mad profits, let's take a look at the "Man From Atlantis" and "240-Robert" lunch boxes, made in 1977 and 1978, respectively. They have been known to sell for a little over $5,200 each! "Wait... What?" you might be asking. Patrick "Bobby Ewing from Dallas" Duffy starred as Mark Harris in "Man From Atlantis," a TV show in which the titular man is the only survivor of the mythical Atlantis. He joins with two humans in a submarine, and — oh, just read the whole wonderfully complicated premise at IMDB. The series "240-Robert" starred a young Mark Harmon in a show about the Emergency Services of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Judging by the scene on its lunch box, the one-season show was action-packed. Country music gets less respect; a "Hee Haw" lunchbox is only worth about $65, says MeTV.

If you're looking for the mother lode of lunch vehicles, the 1954 "Superman" box with thermos snagged $16,000 at some point. That could put someone in crustless sandwiches for the rest of their lives, and then some.