Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Lunchables

For many kids across the nation, Lunchables are a welcome alternative to the constant barrage of PB&Js. There’s something special about those little individual plastic craters, filled with satisfying circles of ham or cheddar, or maybe even the elements to make your own little pizza pies. For a kid, getting a hand in creating what you’re about to eat is just plain fun (something I wish I could remember as an adult, waiting for my pasta water to boil). Though there’s not much reason for us grown-ups to eat them (but here are the Lunchables flavors worth trying if you are interested in revisiting the good ol’ days), let’s learn a bit about Lunchables. But take everything with a grain of salt (or swirl of sweet pizza sauce), as I only minored in Lunchables history in college.

What are Lunchables?

The original Lunchables were pre-packaged meals consisting of lunch meats, cheeses, and crackers, designed to provide a quick lunch option for busy parents to give to their children. It’s a lot like the kid version of a charcuterie board. The design of the package is based on the look of a classic American TV dinner, with individual partitions for the various food components that the child can combine at their whim. These days, Lunchables have expanded their offerings to include things like DIY pizzas, nachos, and chicken nuggets. The name “Lunchables” was chosen from a list of possible options that included On-Trays, Crackerwiches, Mini Meals, Lunch Kits, Snackables, Square Meals, Walk Meals, Go-Packs, and Fun Mealz.  

When did Lunchables come out?

Lunchables were originally released in Seattle markets in 1988. Citing the success of the Seattle rollout, they went national in 1989. Now, it’s estimated that around 49 million Americans a year buy Lunchables products. There’s likely someone eating one not too far away from you right this very second, especially if you happen to work in a grade school cafeteria. 

Who invented Lunchables?

A man named Tom Bailey created the concept and product known as Lunchables with the help of Bob Drane, Jeff James, and Deborah Giarusso. It was originally envisioned as a way to help Oscar Mayer to sell more bologna and other lunch meat. Bailey and Drane organized a series of focus groups of American mothers, leading him to discover their primary concern was a lack of time. Drane then created a convenient prepackaged lunch featuring Oscar Mayer’s trademark lunch meats. Crackers were used in lieu of bread, as they last longer in the packaging. 

Who makes Lunchables?

Typically elementary schoolers, or full grown adults who don’t have fear of being judged for their juvenile eating habits make Lunchables…Oh, you meant like who manufactures Lunchables, I see now. My apologies. Lunchables is owned and produced by the Kraft-Heinz company, but is marketed under the Oscar-Meyer label.  

Do Lunchables have to be refrigerated?

Yes, every type of Lunchables needs to be refrigerated to keep them at optimal condition. There are often meats and cheeses in the packaging, and I think we can all agree that those are best when not spoiled. The only exception is Lunchables Dirt Cake, S’mores Dippers and Cookie Dunks, which do not require refrigeration. 

How to make Lunchables pizza?

There seem to be a lot of folks out there wondering how to make Lunchables personal pizzas. While it’s really up to you, here’s how we would do it: Spread sauce on a large cracker “crust,” and sprinkle cheese. Then, layer some pepperoni on top. Then eat it—yes, cold. If you want to DIY your own Lunchables pizza, take some store bought Naan (mini if possible!), spread the pizza sauce of your choice over it, then comes shredded mozzarella cheese and deli pepperoni. If you’re adventurous, you can put anchovies or pineapple on it, to ensure no pesky children will want to steal your lunch. 

About the Author

Joe Rumrill

Joe Rumrill is a fictional one-eyed spinach-loving sailor created in 1929 by E.C Se- Wait, no, that's not right... Joe Rumrill is a stand up comedian and writer currently based in Los Angeles. His favorite thing about food is a close tie between the taste and the nutrients one gets from it. His least favorite thing about it is the "gritty, dirt-like quality some food has", but he's most likely referring to the time in third grade he was dared to eat playground sand.

Thoughts? Questions? Complete disagreement? Leave a comment!

Your thoughts.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Who manufactures the crackers to make the sandwich? Can I buy just the crackers?