With the lunch box bonanza gathering pace in the early 1950s there were several new entrants into the market, all keen to a turn profit from the apparent explosion in these fashionable items. ADCO was one such player who began making metal lunch boxes in 1954.
ADCO-Liberty MFG. Corp., to give the company’s full name, featured several designs including E. Roger Muir’s, popular NBC Howdy Doody TV show and also some successful Disney models including Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Davy Crockett. However, it was the company’s relationship with Disney which would eventually put an end to its lunchbox production.
Just two short years after ADCO-Liberty began manufacturing operations, a dispute with Disney occurred over the Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier model. Whilst Davy himself was a licensed character from the 1955 Disney film, in an effort to increase the marketing appeal of the lunch box, ADCO had decided to feature Kit Carson on the rear of the product. Kit, of course, was a non-Disney TV hero and this caused disagreement between the two companies. The exact details of what went on are unclear, but the end result was, in 1956, that Disney switched over to Nashville-based Aladdin Industries for lunch box design and manufacture. Simultaneously, ADCO shut down its operations in Newark, New Jersey.
There are some rare and valuable ADCO collector’s items. The pictures below are of the product that caused the Disney dispute. Including the 15% buyer’s premium, it sold for $347.88 on 27 May 2010 at Hake’s Americana & Collectibles.