Lunchables Almost Went By An Entirely Different Name

If you grew up in the 1990s, you probably recall snacks being a pretty big deal. From Dunkaroos to Fruit by the Foot to Planters Cheez Balls, these sweet and salty treats were seemingly everywhere despite their negligible nutritional benefits. At school, pulling Lunchables out of your Care Bears or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lunch box automatically made you the coolest kid in the cafeteria that day. The build-your-own meal kits were — and still are — an iconic invention with a tasty history.

Lunchables made their debut more than three decades ago in 1988. They were invented by Bob Drane, the vice president of new business strategy at Oscar Mayer at the time, according to Ranker. As the story goes, the original purpose of the product was to sell the company's excess ham and bologna. Over the years, Lunchables has remained a timeless treasure of grocery aisles and cafeteria tables. "It's been that fun lunch, and I think that's what kept it evergreen," Greg Guidotti, head of marketing at Oscar Mayer, told Joe Pinsker from The Atlantic in a 2018 interview. "There's a ritual involved with opening it, and stacking it, and building it."

However, the legendary commodity that makes kids feel like mini chefs went through a few rounds of brainstorming before the moniker "Lunchables" became official.

There were a number of questionable names in the running

Imagine sitting among your classmates and showing off the Crackerwiches, Mini Meals, On-Trays, Walk Meals, Go-Packs, or Fun Mealz your parents packed in your pail. Well, folks ... those are the (thankfully) rejected names the brand many of us know and love today narrowly escaped being called. According to the book "Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us" by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Moss, it took a bit of time before the team at Oscar Mayer landed on "Lunchables." Apparently, the in-house research and development group led by Bob Drane opted for the right idea, as the fun, convenient, self-assembly-required, on-the-go indulgences raked in $217 million in their first year on the market.

Although there was a shortage in 2021, today Lunchables are reliably back on store shelves and making appearances at Yung Gravy concerts (per Kent Wire). They're available in a variety of classic snacks, including miniature pizzas, nachos, and crackers with meats and cheeses, plus newer dessert options such as S'Mores Dippers and Dirt Cake. We're just glad they're not On-Trays.