The Miner's Lunchbox

Jun 27, 2017 • Alex Matisse

The Miner's Lunchbox

The Miner's Lunchbox

Looking back on my personal history of packed lunches, I'm amazed (and a little ashamed) to realize the variety of bags and boxes I used to carry them.  Each August in elementary school, I'd insist on a brand new backpack and matching lunchbox - the insulated, plastic-lined types.  After seventh grade and a brief stint toting a metal Napoleon Dynamite number, I settled on the cool nonchalance of a classic brown bag.  

Maybe their generic timelessness helped me navigate the cruel worlds of eighth grade and early high school, but after a few too many soggy holes and a quick education in the fact that things I throw away don't actually go away, I scrapped lunchboxes altogether.  Nothing durable was cool, and nothing cool was durable; I'd just have to balance a tower of Tupperware atop the stack of books in my backpack, thank you.

If only I'd known...


In Sudbury, Ontario in 1956, a tired nickel miner named Leo May was waiting underground for the cage - the elevator used to transport workers and supplies in and out of the mines.  He stood his tin lunchbox on its end, bent down to take a seat, and landed flat on his heinie, squashing his lunchbox in the process.

May went home to his basement workshop, intent on creating a lunchbox strong enough to act as a lunch break seat.  After showing up to work with an aluminum prototype and impressing his colleagues - 40 of which wanted their own - May developed L.May Mfg, a small company that steadily grew and eventually turned to mass production in 1978.

The Original Miners Riveted Aluminum Lunchbox continues to be manufactured by L.May in Sudbury and is used around the world by miners and non-miners alike.  We like them for packing lunch and little picnics, of course; but they're also perfect as toolboxes, sewing kits, and cosmetic cases.  These days, it just feels right to buy something you know you won't have to replace - especially when you can show it off on your desk.

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