Dixie Frantz

I was in the grocery store recently when I came upon a lady sporting a hair net standing behind her stainless steel cart at the end of an aisle. She was handing out samples of Oscar Mayer Lunchables. My first thought was … were Lunchables slipping as a kid’s favorite lunch? 


I quickly popped the clutch and pushed the gear shift on my cart into second gear. Even though it was certain there was an extra special Lunchables coupon involved if I tarried, my shopping cart tires intentionally left burned rubber marks on the tile floor. I apologized profusely to the store manager before leaving the store.
Oscar Mayer came up with Lunchables in 1988. Basically, the concept also includes lots of packaging in landfills everywhere. They usually also contain a little meat, cheese and crackers and, if your child is really lucky, their mom gets them the Lunchables with the Oreo cookie. Yep … my kids loved them when they were little … and probably some of your kids do too. 


I saw this funny video circulating on Facebook the other day from a teacher talking about cafeteria duty. He chats about all his elementary students whose mommies packed Lunchables. The dude goes into great detail about having to help his “Lunchables students” get the darn packaging open. Imagine 10 first-graders with their right hand up asking for assistance. That could take the whole lunch period. It seems his principal even called the teacher out more than a few times for his table being extra late finishing lunch. The teacher’s deadpan delivery is a sight to behold! 


School lunches have come a long way since the hubster and I were little tykes. No Lunchables options. I remember years of the same three edibles in my paper lunch sack which was stapled shut with my name across the bag. My mom packed a combination of bologna and an American cheese slice on two pieces of fluffy white Wonder bread, a bag of chips and Hostess cupcake. When I was a teenager, Hostess cupcakes were replaced with Ding Dongs which made their appearance in 1967. I deem them far superior to the cupcake with the cute little white swirl! 


Did I mention the hubster is a couple years older? I don’t think plastic wrap was invented when Rick was a little kid. He remembers his sandwiches were “wrapped” in wax paper. Now wax paper never really worked at keeping a sandwich fresh since you can’t really get wax paper to do much of anything. It was the thought that counted. 


With 10 other siblings, nine of them girls, assembling school lunches required quite a production line.


“You never knew what you were going to get in your lunch when you got to the cafeteria. Some days I got a mustard sandwich and sometimes a mustard and peanut butter sandwich. I never found out who got the double meat,” said Rick.


Rick’s mother taught the girls the assembly-line approach to making sandwiches. First, two long lines of white bread before filling was applied to the bottom and then the top bread applied and wrapped. In theory, the concept sounds good. Some of the kids got a bologna or olive loaf sandwich … no cheese … while others received peanut butter and jelly. Well, that explains the mustard and peanut butter sandwich.


“And I remember our lunch sacks were all balled up on top, not neat and stapled like yours was,” he laughed in my direction.  


My awesome son-in-law, Chad, was sitting at the table while we were “school lunch” reminiscing. Seems he had a story of his own. His was about purchasing school lunches in middle school. Not sure his mom knows about this one … but then again … I am certain there are lots of kids waiting decades before letting the olive loaf out of the bag.


Chad, along with his sister and brother, used to bring their sack lunch to school most every day. For a special treat, his mom would give each of them four quarters and a dime she had set aside to purchase a hot school lunch. 


“In middle school, the hot lunches were awful. When they started an ala carte menu, I always got the same thing … Frito pie, cinnamon roll and a Coke,” grinned Chad. 


I suspect Lunchables is not going away anytime soon as a kid’s favorite school lunch. Perhaps if Oscar Mayer added easy-open tabs, teachers would even sing their praises. Just a thought!


Dixie Frantz is a Kingwood resident and newspaper columnist for the past 20 years. Email comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can also visit Dixie’s blog at lifesloosethreads.com  

Dixie Frantz
Author: Dixie FrantzWebsite: http://www.lifesloosethreads.comEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnist
I am a long-time Houstonian in love with writing, blogging, travel, quilting and reading. I have written “You Gotta Laugh,” a humorous newspaper column, for the past 21 years. The columns showcase the funny, amusing and sometimes touching slices of life from the suburbs. My writing credentials include more than 430 humorous columns, features and travel stories for The Tribune Newspaper.

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