This collector is really out to lunch
Jennifer Hess of Marion has been collecting antique lunchboxes since she was in sixth grade.
“The year was 1981,” Hess said, “and every Saturday morning, I clamored to watch my favorite cartoon — Healthcliff — with the mischievous, orange-striped tabby cat. He always managed to fool the dogs in the neighborhood, and he looked similar to a male cat I owned through adulthood.”
Little did she know that collecting vintage lunchboxes would become a passion.
Her story of her collection was published in recent issues of Country Woman and Reminisce magazines.
She has collected more than 100 so far. They are displayed above her kitchen cabinets on shelves built by her husband, Jerry.
“He likes those boxes,” she said.
At the beginning of every school year, she and her friends would excitedly examine each other’s lunchboxes. Some pictured superheroes, Snow White, or characters from “Little House on the Prairie.”
Later on, she began buying them at garage sales and antique stores. When her friends found out about her collection, they started finding lunch boxes for her.
“They’re pretty rare,” Hess said. “Sometimes I’ll find only one in a huge antique store. I don’t buy them unless they are in good condition.”
She dreams of building a little she shed, where she could display the lunchboxes and invite people to view them.
Until then, she will continue to have her eyes open for more of the colorful metal boxes.
“The bright images catch your eye,” she said. “They’re just fun.”
Last modified Nov. 4, 2021