As early as 1937, an article in the New York Times described the “model school lunch” as being packed in “old-time brown paper bags” often containing sandwiches made from “leftovers” and “wrapped in wax paper.”

Eighty-two years later, the brown paper lunch bag continues to prevail. 

Some parents leave little notes for their kids, or daily facts. But one dad in Texas has taken the humble lunch bag to the next level. Brian Walker of Dallas, TX, began drawing on his son Declan’s lunch bags two years ago. It’s gone from a cute idea to a daily talking point among Declan’s friends.

Considerable spoke to dad Brian, 52, and son Declan, 10, to learn about how this all began.

Declan: It started in 2nd grade and it’s been over two years of lunchbags everyday.

Brian: Declan has always loved to draw and going to school can be a challenge sometimes. I thought that this would put a smile on his face at lunchtime. I’d never drawn anything before, so I attempted to draw one to make him laugh and it went from there. Every morning I get up an hour before my wife and son and sit down to do a lunch bag.

Every once in a while we do a weekly theme, so this week’s theme is Broadway shows. Sometimes the theme is literature, famous scientists…

Declan: Or sometimes different characters all played by the same actor in pop culture. We also did a cockney rhyming slang week.

Do you have a favorite lunch bag that you remember?

Declan: I think the one featuring Admiral Akbar from Star Wars — yep, that was my favorite. 

Brian: The other thing that we do is write a ‘word of the day’ on the opposite side of the lunch bag.

What was the best word of the day?

Declan: Arachibutyrophobia.

What does that mean?

Declan: It’s the fear of getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth!

Who knew? What do your friends think of all this?

Declan: The first time I brought my lunch bag someone said, “That is an awesome drawing, did you do that?” And I told him, “No it was my dad.” They asked me if he was an artist. It’s led to a lot of discussions. One time I had a Simpsons bag and someone didn’t know about the TV show, so we talked about it.

Brian: Declan deals out pop culture to his crew. We’ve also done some that required some engineering. Like that Simpsons one — I taped bags together to do Marge Simpson’s hair…

Declan: Yeah and it took forever for me to actually get to my lunch that day!

Do you think you’ll ever grow out of wanting these lunch bags?

Declan: I want my dad to continue making me lunch bags through college, then I want to reuse them for my kids. 

Brian: Or you could wallpaper your room with them?

Declan: Oh yeah! That would be fun. 

So this is a collaboration at times. Have other people asked you to create bags for them?

Brian: People have suggested I sell them or market them in some way, but I do this purely for the joy of Declan getting a laugh at school.


If all of this was far too uplifting for you, never fear. For the cynics out there, take a look at Whitney Cicero’s contribution to the brown-lunch-bag-world.

A mother of a 14-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son, Cicero has taken to writing “passive aggressive notes” on her children’s lunch bags. Some highlights include “Made with love, packed with mild anxiety” and “Just pretend it’s Chipotle.”

Anyone else craving a PB&J now or is it just me?

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