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Is This The Largest Lunchbox Collection In The United States?

In a previous post I discussed 3 prominent lunch box museums which are based in Ohio, California & Georgia. However, in researching that article I have since realized that I managed to overlook one other collection which is absolutely stunning! This bumbling oversight on my part (for which I apologize profusely) means that we can now add Eastpointe, Michigan to the list of notable US-based museums.

The collection in question is owned by Dan Zieja who owns the Melodies & Memories record store near Detroit. Containing over 3,000 pieces it is open to the public and Dan himself claims that it is the largest of its kind in the country. I won’t dispute this (although Allen Woodall from the Lunch Box Museum in Columbus might do?) but what is for sure is that it contains some absolutely awesome pieces.

Rather than go into the specifics here it is probably better for you to head over to this Wired article written by Chuck Squartriglia which has a great interview with the main man himself as well as some fabulous photos taken by Jim Merithew.

There is some interesting history here and more examples of the dome boxes that Aladdin introduced in the mid-1950s. As some of you know I’m a real 80’s fan so this one has to be by far my favorite from the photos in the article:

The Fall Guy Lunch Box

Photo: Jim Merithew / Wired.com


The Lunch Box Museum – 3 Brief Reviews

It is a testament to the popularity of lunch box collecting that the United States is home to several lunch box museums. Generally speaking they have a fairly low profile and so I thought I’d mention three of them here at Tin Lunch Boxes HQ so you know to call in next time you are passing by!

Lunch Box Museum - Clarke's Collectibles

Lunch Box Museum - Clarke's Collectibles

Clarke’s Collectibles Lunch Box Museum

This wonderful collection of over 700 boxes is Debbie Clarke’s creation. Debbie is a retired teacher and her website has several fantastic photos of parts of her collection as well as the museum building itself. Although the site is perhaps a little thin on detail she is also an active trader on eBay where there is some more information about her life and how she got started. You can find that here. As for the museum itself, it is located at 3674 E Hwy 20, Nice, California, Lake County. The building was the old Nice firehouse and was transformed by Debbie and her husband Duane. Please note that it open for private tours only which can be arranged directly with Debbie by calling 707-274-9952.

Etta’s Lunchbox Cafe & Museum

LaDora Ousley originally starting buying up lunchboxes in order to store cassette tapes. This clearly blossomed into an extensive collection now consisting of well in excess of 800 items! It looks like a great place to visit because not only do you not have to pre-book but you can also enjoy a bite to eat in the adjoining cafe. I suspect that looking at all those lunch boxes is enough to make anyone hungry! Here is a great You Tube video filmed in the Museum in New Plymouth, Ohio:

Allen Woodall's Lunchbox Museum

Allen Woodall's Lunchbox Museum

Lunchbox Museum

Last but certainly not least is Allen Woodall’s Lunchbox Museum in Columbus, Georgia. Whilst in no way diminishing the fabulous achievements of Debbie and LaDora it has to be said that Allen’s collection is simply massive! So big in fact that it holds the record for the largest collection in the world! The museum is situated above a country-music radio station inside the International Marketplace, 318 10th Ave. Columbus, GA. 31901. This is probably the ultimate destination for us lunch box enthusiasts, partly because of the sheer size of the collection but also because Allen Woodall himself is considered a major authority on metal lunch boxes having authored one of the few books available on the topic.

I’m sure there are more museums around the world and potential new ones from private collections which could be opened up to the public. I’d particularly be interested in any collections that are located outside of the US. This would be especially interesting because tin lunch boxes themselves are intrinsically American. If anyone knows further information on this, please do leave a comment!