The Lunch Box Museum in Columbus, Ga., is home to the world's largest collection of lunchboxes. Founded in 1990 by Allen Woodall, it now holds more than 5,000 metal and plastic boxes, thermoses and coolers.
Woodall's granddaughter, Kaitlynn Griffith, said they added other collections to the space this summer. The newly dubbed Columbus Collective Museums also is home to the Royal Crown Cola Museum, Chero-Cola Museum, Nehi Drink Museum, Tom's Peanut Museum and the Georgia Radio Museum and Hall of Fame.
Museum visitors would do well to keep an open mind. This is not a pristine building, with marble floors and elegant braided rope barriers. Historical artifacts are displayed in the back of Woodall's River Market Antiques store, which holds everything from bric-a-brac to a shiny red 2009 Tesla — not for sale, because, someday, the 87-year-old wants an electric car museum. The lunchbox collection is crammed inside two rooms. A passage leads to the rest of Woodall's accumulated treasures.
The rarest pieces on exhibit include a 1935 Mickey Mouse lunch kit, and a Hopalong Cassidy pail credited with sparking the lunchbox craze among kids.
Woodall's most expensive pieces — a metal lunchbox and thermos bearing Toppie, the Top Value Stamp Elephant from the '60s — are valued at nearly $10,000. Most of the collection is not locked behind glass. He invites visitors to touch them, and even purchase his duplicates (price tags average $85-$150).
The Lunch Box Museum is at 3218 Hamilton Road, Columbus, Ga. 706-332-6378, lunchboxmuseum.com.
Woodall's museum may be the largest lunchbox museum, but it's not the only one. Clarke's Collectibles Lunch Box Museum and Antiques Store in Nice, Calif., is open for private tours.