There comes a point in a brown-bagger's life when, after day in and day out with the same midday pack lunch, he realizes he needs a change of tote. He finally gets tired of the looks of that wrinkled brown sack. That stained and dull plastic food box has to go, a tried and true friend it was. Or in the case of a schoolchild, the rusty lunch pail handed down two older siblings ago may just not hold up another school year.
Time for a new lunch carrier, brown-bagger.
In our quest for newer lunch kits, here's what we discovered on market shelves:
Easy to find in supermarkets are inexpensive but a little upscale "brown" bags . . . no longer brown, mind you. Available in sleek, smooth paper, the bags come in modern pastel floral or abstract or geometric designs, not unlike the gift-wrapping papers.
Cool Cuisine from Trend Pacific in Los Angeles has a lot in store for the brown-bagger or picnicker. The lunch-box kit includes a rectangular lunch-box container, a plastic drinking flask and a canvas carryall. The manufacturer also added an adjustable plastic divider to separate the goodies inside the box. Made of heavy-duty plastic, the lunch box comes in bright blue, red, yellow, black, white and gray.
With the canvas tote, one has a choice of striped designs to coordinate with the color of the lunch box. The bag is also large enough to have room for other take-along items. Aside from the convenience of the bag, Cool Cuisine offers a cooling advantage with its flask. The flat canteen is filled with a favorite beverage and frozen. When placed over the food in the lunch box, the beverage will defrost in a few hours to become an ice cold drink while the chilled air within the container keeps the food cool.
Since Fun Designs Inc. in Duxbury, Mass. brought out its lunch-box radio for children this year, the company has had a difficult time meeting demand. "It's just rad," we hear from a 6-year-old. Of course, the novelty of having a built-in radio (AM only) and speaker as well as headphones with a lunch box would be "radical."
Lunch 'N Tunes' lunch-box radio comes with a cartoon design and color-coordinated thermos. The colors are red, yellow, raspberry and turquoise with three cartoon designs. Equipped with volume and tuning knobs, the lunch-box radio uses one nine-volt battery. It's also packaged in a full-color box, which makes it a nice gift idea for the holidays, if the product becomes more readily available by late fall.
Some people get tired of lugging the same lunch box every day. To get them out of this monotony, Traffic Works Inc. in Los Angeles introduced a line of plastic lunch containers and totes in bold colors and designs. These include sturdy plastic folding cartons with handles that have printed designs of hearts, bears, penguins and sports as well as see-through plain or striped boxes.
Particularly interesting are the Chinese "food-to-go" cartons. Available in three sizes, small, medium and large, these washable boxes come in clear or in flashy red, black and white with red or black wire handles.
Grabbing the current interest of youngsters in dinosaurs, Traffic Works came out with its Dinosaur design collection for back-to-school lunch boxes with matching school accessories like folders and pencil cases. They're very eye-catching with their bright red or yellow colors that have printed black designs of dinosaurs and bats.
If you're a brown-bagger who stashes a sandwich in a briefcase, consider the new Clik Case from Outer Circle Products in Chicago. A fun escape from the traditional briefcase, Clik Case comes in an assortment of bold colors. According to one store owner, yuppies usually buy these in many colors to match their outfit.
\o7 Cool Cuisine has a suggested retail price of $12 and is available at Industrial Revolution (in black only) in Los Angeles; Yamaguchi's in West Los Angeles, and Contain Wares in Costa Mesa.
Lunch 'N Tunes has a suggested retail price of $19 and will be available late fall at Robinson's department stores.
The Dinosaur Lunch Box from Traffic has a suggested retail price of $6 and is available at the Broadway department stores and the Page Museum at the Los Angeles County Art Museum.
Traffic Chinese Food To Go cartons range in price from $2.50 to $4.20 and are available at Industrial Revolution in Los Angeles.
Clik Case has a suggested retail price of $12.95 and is available at Aah's novelty shops and By Design in Beverly Hills.\f7