If there was a food that defined an entire generation of kids that grew up in the '90s, it would definitely be Lunchables, the meat, cheese, and cracker (and sometimes pizza) combo that was just as easy to buy as it was to take to school. There’s been a lot of talk about the nostalgia that surrounds the semi-lunch item, but less chatter about how Lunchables changed advertising or how Lunchables changed food and how millennials conceptualize meals. If you want to take a trip down memory lane, or if you’re just here for the wacky Lunchables statistics, keep reading to learn some processed facts you didn’t know about Lunchables.
Lunchables in pop culture have taken on an almost mythic quality. Aging millennials can lapse into a discussion about trading sandwich toppings just as easily as they could back when their second-grade lunch bell had just rung. If you’re hankering for a turkey, cracker, and processed cheese sandwich, open up these Lunchables facts and try to save the dessert for last.Read through this list for some fascinating and surprising facts about everyone’s favorite almost-lunch. And if you have any special memories of noshing on Lunchables, or a particular method for evenly distributing your meat, cheese, and crackers, tell us about it in the comments.
They Changed Advertising and Food Science Forever
Three years before Lunchables were released in 1988, Bob Drane, Vice President for New Business Strategy at Oscar Mayer, assembled a team of 15 people with positions varying from food scientists to advertisers to put together what would become the first version of the handy meal we all know today. The creation changed the way that ready-pack meals would be created and marketed forever.
According to Michael Moss, a reporter for the New York Times, Drane's team first decided to market Lunchables to moms who "work outside of the home, and designed it and marketed it as a way for moms to get through the 7 a.m. crush in the household where everybody’s scrambling to get out of the house and off to school and work."
And even though that worked fine, the second marketing campaign was what cemented Lunchables' status as king of the lunch room. "They came up with this slogan: 'All day, you gotta do what they say. But lunchtime is all yours.' And kids went nuts for it.
Pizza Lunchables, think about it. It’s a piece of cold dough, cheese, tomato sauce, that the kids assemble themselves. But that meant everything to kids, and sales skyrocketed."
Lunchables Were Invented to Sell More BolognaSorry to burst your nostalgia bubble, but Lunchables were originally created by the Oscar Meyer company as a way to sell its excess bologna and ham. Who knew it was so hard for a hot dog company to sell bologna?
There Were Some Silly Names for LunchablesPrior to bestowing the brand of Lunchables down from on high, Bob Drane and his team considered a plethora of names that weren't so great: On-Trays, Crackerwiches, MiniMeals, Lunch Kits, Snackables, Square Meals, Walk Meals, Go-Packs, and Fun Mealz. To be honest, "On-Trays" is pretty good.
Got an Angry Kid? Take Away His Lunchables
In 2013, a report was released that said teachers had begun to see a connection between Lunchables and negative behavioral issues in the classroom. An anonymous teacher said, "More of my Lunchable Kids create behavioral problems than my other kids. They take shortcuts, have poor attitudes and seem to struggle socially.
I also believe that the lack of nutrition makes it difficult for the kids to function.”