American industrial workers have often carried their lunch
in plain metal buckets. Since the mid-19th century, miners,
factory workers, dock hands, and other laborers have used
sturdy dinner pails to hold hard-boiled eggs, vegetables,
meat, coffee, pie, and other hardy fare. In 1904, "thermos"
vacuum bottles began keeping workers' drinks hot or cold until
the noon whistle blew.
Parents 100 years ago often gave their schoolchildren
an empty tobacco or coffee tin to carry some fresh-picked
strawberries and bread, a wedge of cheese, and possibly a
handful of shelled hickory nuts. Other children carried a
fancy store-bought lunch pail, a paper sack, or no lunch at