Picnic in the Post-War Park


vintage illustration family picnic 1948

Long before we became a fast food, disposable nation, picnicking required something more substantial and permanent than a Styrofoam clamshell  tossed in a brown paper bag.

According to a 1948 advertisement  by Aladdin, every day was a holiday with your “Aladdin Outing Kit”. Aladdin, the  Nashville manufacturers of those classic metal school lunch boxes with the pictures of your favorite TV star emblazoned on them were previously manufacturers of some more sedate adult fare.

Basically a picnic basket, The Aladdin Outing Kit shared in that marvelous post-war exuberance of carefree living and convenience.

Vintage picture picnic basket

Here’s how they explain their playtime snack bar in a 1948 advertisement ”,,,all outdoors is your dining room when you are the proud possessor of a handsome Aladdin outing kit.”

“With it you’re ready in a jiffy to dine outdoors on food kept fresh and appetizing a coaxing invitation to carefree outdoor hours the year-round. Completely equipped from salt shakers, to Aladdin Hy-Lo Vacuum Bottles, smartly and sturdily cased in lightweight gleaming aluminum…from the time you buy it all outdoors is your living room.”

Apparently sales of the Outing Kit paled in comparison to their maiden venture into manufacturing  decaled children’s school lunch boxes.

Vintage lunchbox Hopalong Cassidy

Their immensely popular Hopalong Cassidy metal lunchbox produced in 1950 was so wildly successful a marriage of peanut butter and jelly with pop culture, it enabled Aladdin to build a new lunch box manufacturing plant.

With the addition of the  Tom Corbett Space Cadett  metal lunchbox 4 years later, the company’s sales really skyrocketed

The rest is school lunch history.

Copyright (©) 2012 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved




  1. Great post! I really love the nostalgia of vintage advertisements.


  2. I really loved Hopalong Cassidy with William Boyd…Your post brings memories of our 1955 RCA Television, in a walnut cabinet…and Saturday mornings surrounded by Hoppy, Sky King, The Long Ranger, Andy Devine, and Zorro. Zorro never missed an opportunity to slash a perfectly placed ‘Z’ with his foil.

    Are we really aware of how much these characters shaped our national ethos? Hoppy was so darn virtuous. And that lunch box is precious.

    And than I grew up. Matured into Bonanza. Though my favorite is “Have Gun Will Travel.” Recently removed from Netflix due to contractual issues there are about 39 episodes per year, distributed over a 7 or so year run. Never tired of Richard Boone. I believe on CBS, Saturday night. Of course that was during the late 1950’s all way through the early 1960’s.

    Sally, you make me think so, so much of who we are and how we became this way. Keep up the work!!!


  3. Thanks for the article, i too like lunchboxes and built a price guide for them here http://www.greatestcollectibles.com/lunch-box-price-guide/ with images, descriptions and prices for each one. Hope it’s helpful.



  4. Sheila Bell

    Thanks for this! Still remember my Hop along Cassidy doll and his horse! Please do article on Picnics in Victorian days with wicker baskets and long dresses?


  5. Gary

    Hello Sally Can you tell me who has the copy right on the family picnic image it has your water make on it
    Thanks Gary


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