The lunchbox museum is a labor of love for Woodall, who opened it in 1990. The retired radio executive said his desire to share his passion with others led him to create the museum in his hometown. “Lunchboxes have so much character. To me they are time capsules,” he said. “They really bring back a lot of great memories to a lot of people.”
“My favorite lunchboxes are ‘Dick Tracy’ and ‘The Green Hornet’ because I enjoyed listening to them on the radio.”
Woodall said guests to the museum are usually drawn to boxes that represent the era when they were school kids. “When a lot of people come, they have in mind the box that they had in school,” Allen said. “And they start looking for that box and, boy, when they see it, I see that smile on their face!
There are more than 2,000 lunchboxes, Thermos containers and meal trays lining the walls and everywhere in between. Scanning them visually, one can find an old Hopalong Cassidy and plenty more that include Snow White, Scooby Doo, Snoopy, The Incredible Hulk, The Brady Bunch, the Lone Ranger, Indiana Jones, the Hardee Boys, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Hong Kong Phooey. There’s even one metal box that simply reads, “My Lunch,” with an apple on the front of it.
“If somebody says, ‘That’s Scooby-Doo, what I had in school, and I don’t have it and would love to have it’ … if we’ve got a duplicate, we’ll actually sell it to them,” Woodall said.
The classic metal lunchbox era came to an end with concerns (among parents and lawmakers) that pieces of metal could be used as weapons at schools, Woodall said. From that point on, box manufacturers switched from metal to softer plastic lunchboxes. “I think the newer boxes lack the character and workmanship than the older metal boxes,” he said.