Way back, I guess, we used large leaves and other natural containers (bamboo tubes?) and pieces of linen, perhaps. Then we moved onto paper packets, wicker baskets, or whatever might be the local variation of tiffin-boxes and bento-boxes.
Or, we got creative, and made our own out of whatever was at hand. Here is a nifty idea (although sacrilegious to a bibliophile) from Popular Science, August 1921.
“A lunchbox can be made from an old book of the proper thickness and size. With a straight-edge and an old safet-razor blade, the center of the pages are cut out as shown. When this is done, a thick preparation of glue is smeared around the inside and over this pieces of cardboard, cut to the proper size, are placed. When the glue sets, the book will stiffen up and a very good little lunchbox will result. Some care and patience will have to be taken to see that the cutting is carried on as evently as possible and keeping the pages uniform.”
Capital Luncheon Cake that will keep Six Months and save the trouble of frequent Making.Take two pounds of flour, one and a half pound of treacle, half an ounce of ground ginger, quarter of a pound of sugar, quarter of an ounce of ground caraway seed, and candied lemon peel, cut very small. Mix all well with the flour; warm the butter [the recipe omits to say how much butter] and mix with the rest, then warm the treacle; dissolve in a little boiling water a large teaspoonful of carbonate of soda, and stir it well into the treacle; add to the other ingredients; work all well together and bake in a buttered tin two hours; in a rather slow oven.
Wives whose husbands are professional men having frequently only time to take a snack and a glass of sherry in the middle of the day will win admiration by making these cakes and sending them to their husbands offices.
[The Family Save-All, A System of Secondary Cookery, 1861]
Quotation for the Day.
When you make his sandwiches, put a sexy or loving note in his lunch box.