Monday, August 27, 2007

Back to School - On a Very Famous Yellow Bus


If there would ever be a Disney Products Hall of Fame, this particular item would likely be one of the most revered and honored inductees.

The classic Walt Disney School Bus lunchbox is a pop culture icon to a generation of baby boomers. Some nine million units of this bright yellow metal lithographed schoolyard accessory were produced over a span of twenty years. Aladdin Industries introduced the lunchbox in 1956 at a then somewhat pricey $2.69. An original in good condition can currently fetch into the hundreds of dollars at collectors markets and online auctions.

This classic piece of Disneyana was the brainchild of Disney Legend Al Konetzni. Self-described as a salesman with a pencil, Konetzni brought his artistic and creative skills to Disney in 1953 when he was hired as an idea man for the character merchandise division, then based out of New York City. He would spend the next 28 years creating Disney character merchandise that included toys, clothing, jewelry, watches and countless other products. He had a hand in everything from Pez candy dispensers to the toothbrushes they necessitated.

Sure, it was just a lunchbox. It carried its share of apples, Twinkies and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And if swung with enough force, it was a formidable deterrent to even the most intimidating bullies. But more than anything, it was a true triumph of consumer product design. Every surface was authentic--including the bottom, which displayed the vehicle’s tires and undercarriage. Sixteen Disney characters were represented--Mickey, Pluto, Donald and Bambi waved on passengers that included Dopey, Thumper, Huey, Dewie, Louie, Morty, Ferdie, Alice, Pinocchio, Dumbo, and Jiminy Cricket, with Goofy at the wheel.

Two wonderful details--Bambi carries an edition of the lunchbox in his mouth, and the Emergency Door on the rear of the bus warns “OPEN FOR LUNCH ONLY.”

8 comments:

Matt said...

Great Disneyana post.

Anonymous said...

A classmate, Julie Terrel, had one of these lunchboxes in elementary school and I credit it with my first understanding of "infinity." Why? Well, as mentioned, Bambi carries an edition of the lunchbox in his mouth and, as my 7 year old brain deduced, on the lunchbox in his mouth, there's a *another* Bambi carrying *another* lunchbox, and on that lunchbox...and on and on and on... :)

Ed South said...

Great Post! I was only lucky enough to have the Disney on Parade lunch box. I've always been a big fan of the Walt Disney World lunchbox!

allyn fratkin said...

great post! i had one of these when i was a kid in the late 60's.

Sorcerer Mickey said...

And of course the perfect contents would include a lunch box-sized bag of "Fritos... as served in Disneyland!"

Anonymous said...

Visited Disneyland yesterday and saw a nice painting of this lunch box in one of the stores on Main St.

Paul B.

Shannon said...

I have never heard of this one sorry. I had a classic 1980 metal one with all the characters on a Disneyland train.

Gianni said...

Very surprised but great to know. I have this very lunch box from since I was 3, in 1977. Still use it as often as I can, wherever I go on a creative job, to this very day! . . . Always thought it held sentimental value. Nice to know that it holds its weight in gold too!