Modern day women have to straddle the line between their work life as smart professional career women and perfect mothers that keep a neat home and care for their children. There is often no time for thought out, nutritional food preparation. Oh but, never fear, because Lunchables are here, offering to provide your child with a healthy, fun filled lunch all in one easy packaging. But on closer examination, what is really inside?
Lunchables were introduced by Oscar Meyer in 1988 and offer cool varieties, such as, pizza, nachos, turkey stackers, and chicken nuggets. Successful marketing has convinced parents that the compartment style lunch is an acceptable food alternative, but on closer examination it is revealed that the boxes have almost zero nutritional value, contain a laundry list of chemical additives, and may actually be harmful to a child.
A similarly compartmental stylized children’s lunch originates in Japanese culture. The obento, the boxed lunch prepared by Japanese mothers for their young children, is an important symbol of Japanese culture. These lunches are artfully designed with relation to Japanese stylistic motifs and are labored over by mothers sending their child of to nursery school. Ann Allison, an Anthropologist and Japanese mother, claims that mothers spend many hours preparing and creating the obento box, but at an unforeseen cost. Japanese women that chose to have a family are often constrained into low-paying part-time jobs because they must maintain all of their domestic duties as mothers (Counihan, Food and Culture).
So is this what our culture has given mothers as a choice? Stay home, don’t focus on your career and make your child a nutritious beautiful meal, or pursue a career and rely on cardboard, chemically based, nutrient lacking lunchables. They may be enticing with their “Momable” marketing campaign, but with an understanding of their contents is the convenience really worth it?