The Devolution of the Lunch Box

The Daily What this week featured the Doughnut To-Go, a "life-altering doughnut transportation system." It consists of some kind of plastic contraption that can be padlocked and has little air holes so that the doughnut can "breathe." Cute, but here's an even better system: a paper bag, and anyone who touches your doughnut faces so much hellfire that they never even look in the direction of your food ever again. Because a plastic box with a padlock is just one office joker away from being a former plastic box with a padlock that was easily pried apart with a letter opener.

This overwrought and not actually all that life-altering invention does, however, call to mind several other food transportation systems that are actually fantastic. First on the list: the Japanese bento box. It's compartmentalized such that your meal can consist of numerous small delicious diversions. It's portable. And it's stone-cold gorgeous.

Of course, the good old American lunch box shouldn't be overlooked. Purely utilitarian at the outset, the lunch box quickly became a gauge of pop culture. In the 1950s we had the Lone Ranger; in the '70s, we had Hong Kong Phooey; now, of course, we have lunch boxes immortalizing Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny. Progress!

Long forgotten save for the occasional rusted-out mining town is what may be one of the coolest food transportation devices ever devised by human beings: the miner's lunch pail. Throw a hot pasty in there, and you're in business—the food stays warm and undamaged for hours, and if you've got to reheat it, the box itself can serve as an impromptu pot. Now that's life-altering.

Image source: strapya-world.com