Roy Rogers Lunch Box

The first Roy Rogers lunch box debuted in 1953 and was made by the American Thermos Company. Roy Rogers was the acknowledged King Of The Cowboys, and as his first lunch boxes hit store shelves he had just finished a long and successful movie career and had moved into television with “The Roy Rogers Show” (1951-1957).

A Little History About The Roy Rogers Lunch Box

In the early days of American motion pictures and television the Western reigned supreme and the cowboy was king. When, in 1950, Aladdin Industries began selling a lunch box for children featuring the popular cowboy star Hopalong Cassidy (fondly referred to as “Hoppy”) it was an instant success for the company.

The Hopalong Cassidy lunch box was a bit modest looking, though, with blue and red metal and a decal about 4 inches big of Hoppy on one side. Even so, more than 600,000 of them were sold and put into the hands of happy children the first year it went on sale.

Shortly thereafter, another cowboy star, Roy Rogers, the King Of The Cowboys himself, wanted his image on a lunch box for children, too. Roy approached the Aladdin company about making a lunch box for him, but the company turned him down, famously telling him “one cowboy is enough.”

But persistence was something Roy Rogers was accustomed to, and he took his request for a Roy Rogers lunch box to a different company, American Thermos. They turned him down also, but Roy kept negotiating with American Thermos and they finally agreed to manufacture and market his lunch box.

Image of the American Thermos Bottle Company, the manufacturer of the Roy Rogers lunch box.
Postcard circa 1930–1945 of the American Thermos Bottle Company in Norwich, Connecticut. The sprawling complex made millions of Thermoses and lunch boxes, including the Roy Rogers lunch box.

When the Roy Rogers lunch box was released in 1953 it was not a modest metal lunch box with a four-inch sticker on one side. The Roy Rogers lunch box was far more spectacular: It was a metal lunch box with beautiful, colorful lithographed designs all over the box, and inside was a matching lithographed steel bottle, too. It was an eye-popping piece of American marketing that, coupled with Roy Rogers’ incredible popularity as King Of The Cowboys, sent it flying off of store shelves and into the proud ownership of children all across the country.

In the first year alone, more than 2.5 million Roy Rogers lunch boxes were sold. It was a huge success not only for Roy but also for American Thermos, who would continue to manufacture Roy Rogers lunch boxes in different styles and designs for several years to come.

About Shopping For A Roy Rogers Lunch Box

When shopping for a Roy Rogers lunch box on eBay or anywhere else, there are several things you should know before you bid or buy. Below is a list of a few of those things.

  • Is the lunch box an older box made several decades ago, or was it made more recently?
  • Is the lunch box new or used?
  • Is the lunch box made of metal or some other material?
  • If the lunch box is used, exactly how used it is? If a lunch box has been used it is reasonable to assume it may not be in perfect condition. The seller should clearly describe any scratches, scuffs, dings or dents, rust, broken parts, etc., and show them in the pictures if possible.
  • How big is the lunch box? Does the seller give measurements to let you know just how big the box is? Hint: It is more common for sellers to give measurements on new lunch boxes than older ones.
  • Are there enough clear pictures of the lunch box to give you an excellent idea of what it looks like and the condition it is in? If you don’t feel like you can get a good look at the lunch box through the pictures the seller is showing, ask the seller for additional photos BEFORE you bid or buy.
  • If a seller describes a Roy Rogers lunch box as being vintage, rare, collectible, valuable, and so on, make sure those words and others like them fit your definition of the word and not just the seller’s. The lunch box might indeed be accurately described by those terms, but those terms are subjective, and what might be a “collectible” lunch box to one person may not be at all collectible to someone else.
  • What do you get along with the lunch box, if anything? For example, some lunch boxes come with a thermos of some kind while others don’t. If the Roy Rogers lunch box you are interested in is used, it may have originally come with a thermos that has since been lost. Don’t assume what you will get with the lunch box, find out for sure.
  • What does NOS mean? If a lunch box or any other item is described as NOS is probably means “new old stock.” This means the item is no longer manufactured, is in new or unused condition, and has not been previously sold in a retail market. For example, it could be an item that has sat in a manufacturer’s warehouse for years, or that was sold to a retail outlet but for some reason never made it to the shelves to be sold to the public.
  • What will the shipping charges be?
  • Will the seller ship to your area? How soon will the lunch box be shipped after you pay for it?
  • What payment methods does the seller accept? How soon after the sale do you have to pay for your purchase? An increasing number of eBay sellers are getting tired of buyers who take a long time to pay for their item. Some of these sellers are now requiring the item be paid for within a certain time frame or the sale is off. Read the item’s description for acceptable payment methods and times.
  • Every eBay item for sale has a “Meet the seller” area. Be sure to check this area to view the feedback rating that previous buyers have left for that particular seller. There is also an area where a potential buyer can read comments left by previous buyers.
  • If you have any questions on a Roy Rogers lunch box be sure to ask the seller BEFORE you bid or buy.