Tried & Tested: Snack-in-the-box

When your child wants street-cred and you want an easy life, the right lunchbox is crucial. Our panel dips in

IN THE battle to measure up in the playground, having the "right" lunchbox can mean a lot. But while for the kids, it has to be the very latest thing, for parents, it's more important that it resists damage and leaks. So, which should you choose?

THE PANEL

Five children road-tested the samples with their mothers. The panel comprised Claire Wright, nine, her brother James, 11, and their mum, Di; Katelyn Dyason, six, and her mother, Jenni; and mother-of-three Joe Soden, with Joseph, nearly four, and Benjamin, nearly two.

THE TEST

Everyone agreed on the qualities of the ideal lunchbox. The parents wanted it to stand upright to prevent flask leakage, with enough room for sandwiches, crisps and other snacks. It had to withstand the usual playground knocks, and scored more highly if it was lightweight and easy to clean. The kids wanted something easy to open and carry, with a street-cred design.

*TOY STORY BOX WITH FLASK

pounds 6.99

The innovative "briefcase" design of this flask-and-box-in-one backfired; its four "push" catches were voted too sharp and too flimsy, while the children had trouble putting flask and box back together. "There isn't much space inside," reported Jenni Dyason; Katelyn Dyason and Claire Wright thought it "too fiddly". "Imagine the palaver of getting your lunch out of this every day," said an unimpressed Joe Soden. The only thing going for the box, it seemed, was the flask's bendy straw.

***ANIMALS IN DANGER SNACK TIN

pounds 8

This metal snack tin, although tiny, was liked by all. "It saves taking a large lunchbox if you only want a snack," said Jenni Dyason. Claire Wright added: "I like eating all the time so it's good to carry around." Young Joseph Soden was enchanted with it, and his mother liked its novelty value: "If you were given it as a present, you might use it for holding cotton wool. But it's cute - children love carrying things like this around."

**SPICE GIRLS LUNCHBOX

pounds 3.95

"The design on the front is sad, and it's too small," pronounced James Wright of this box, which carries the Fab Five's rather smarmy greeting: "Thank you for making us the number one act in the world." Everyone felt it was too small, but not bad for the price. Jenni liked the easy-slide catches, and pointed out that it was neat, sturdy and simple to wipe clean. "More of a snack box than a lunchbox," she said.

*LION-FACE LUNCHBOX

pounds 2.99

This lunchbox, with no handle and no gimmicks except a moulded lion's face on its yellow lid, failed to grab the panel, despite being sturdy, cheerful, cheap and easy to open. "You'd have to hold it and walk round with it all the time," said Claire Wright, who objected to the inconvenience. Her mother added: "You could put it inside your bag but it doesn't hold very much." The main drawback was that it would be easy to lose: "You'd put it down and forget to pick it up," said Joe Soden.

*MINI-FRIDGE LUNCHBOX

pounds 4.95

In principle, the adults on the panel liked the idea of keeping yoghurts cold with an ice pack, but when it came to this ingenious little red box, which has an ice-pack for a lid, they were less than keen. Their main complaints were that the four catches were stiff and fiddly, the lid was difficult to lift off, and there was little room inside for food. "It's something an adult might have, but it's not very exciting for kids," said Joe Soden. None of the children gave it more than a cursory glance.

**MUJI COMPARTMENTAL LUNCH CARRIER

pounds 7.95

This minimalist see-through plastic box, which came complete with movable compartment dividers and a flexible cutlery rack, was voted too bulky for school - and rather too adult. "It's quite stylish, but I couldn't quite work out exactly how to use it," admitted Joe Soden. Di Wright, meanwhile, liked the cutlery carrier, but added: "I'd use it for a family day out, for a picnic."

****MICKEY MOUSE LUNCH SACK

pounds 8

Voted the favourite "soft-sack" by everyone, this lined, double-zip bag was seen as a quality product with plenty of space for sandwiches, a drink and even an ice-pack. Mums were keen on the handle and on the incorporated name-tag; kids liked the "feelability". "The label's a good idea - the boxes I've got at the moment have got Post-It notes taped all over them," admitted Joe Soden. "This seems sturdier than a lot of the bags, and it's nice and big," reported Di Wright. Jenni Dyason pointed out that it was more difficult to clean, and the sandwich squash-factor was high. "All the crumbs tend to stick in the corners," she warned.

*****MICKEY MOUSE POLAR BOX

pounds 8.95

This was the out-and-out winner, loved by the kids because of its chunkiness and timeless design, and adored by the adults because it was sturdy, easy to clean, and came with the added bonus of a movable ice-pack, which creates an inside compartment. "It's a bit heavy and hard for young children to open, but good quality," said Joe Soden. "I absolutely love it. It would stop my chocolate bars from melting," said Claire, who found parting such sweet sorrow.

**THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE LUNCHBOX WITH FLASK

pounds 5.99

Trains haven't lost their appeal for little boys; both Joseph and Benjamin Soden picked up this bulbous blue case and were keen to carry it off. James Wright said it was a bit young for him. "Street cred's important. I'm more into Tom and Jerry, because they're always up to mischief." Mum Di Wright was uncertain about the flask. "The flasks always tend to break first, and this one has split slightly already," she reported. But it was simple to open, easy to carry, and had plenty of room for sarnies.

***BARBIE AND STAR WARS COOL BAGS

pounds 5.99

The children loved strapping on these insulated bum-bags, which would hold just enough grub to keep them going. Unfortunately, without the cardboard insert, they were too flimsy to prevent food from getting squashed; and picking crumbs out of the seams was frustrating. "They're great for picnics, but maybe not school lunches," said Joe Soden. Katelyn Dyason, a Barbie fan, didn't care about lunch; the bag was trendy enough to take anywhere.

***101 DALMATIANS SACK AND BOX

pounds 7.99

Praise came for the design of this bag-and-box-in-one, which is big enough to carry a flask and to store sandwiches. But the adults were concerned about the quality, particularly the wear-and-tear on the seams. "It's a great idea having a box inside, but this looks as if it could easily split," said Di Wright. The children loved the bright blue design, and easy-carry handle. "This is good for younger kids," said James Wright.

STOCKISTS

Toy Story box from Hamleys, 0171 734 3161; Thomas the Tank Engine and Spice Girls boxes from Woolworths, 0171 262 1222; Animals in Danger tin from the Body Shop, 01903 731500; Lion box from Betterware, 0121 693 1000; 101 Dalmatians box/bag and Star Wars and Barbie bags from Daisy and Tom, 0171 352 5000 (London), 0161 835 5000 (Manchester); Mickey Mouse Polar Box and Mini-Fridge box from John Lewis, 0171 828 1000; Compartmental from Muji, 0171 323 2287; Mickey Mouse lunch sack from Marks & Spencer, 0171 935 4422.

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?