Date: Lunchbox, 1960; thermos, 1963
Country of Origin: United States of America
Overall: 16.51 x 10.8 x 22.23cm (6 1/2in. x 4 1/4in. x 8 3/4in.)
Overall, steel for both lunchbox and thermos; handle, lunchbox, plastic; cup atop thermos, plastic; lining, thermos, glass
This "Astronaut" dome lunchbox from 1960 holds an "Orbit" thermos bottle made in 1963, both made by King Seeley Thermos (KST). After KST had to withdraw "Orbit" from the market because some of its art had been copied without permission, the company paired the leftover bottles with existing boxes, creating this unusal kit that combines speculative ideas about wheeled space stations with drawings of actual Mercury capsules.
This lunchbox set has a special place in the National Air and Space Museum's history. It was the symbol of the Museum's "Lunch Box Forum," an informal series of weekly lunch time talks by Museum curators or invited guests speaking about aviation or astronautics. The Forum began about 1967 and lasted to at least 1978. Early on, one of the speakers, Dr. James B. Edson of NASA, donated this space-themed kit, which became the series' symbol; placing the lunchbox on the table signaled the beginning of the talk.
Gift of Dr. James B. Edson