Dublin: 6 °C Wednesday 22 March, 2023
# wagon wheels
13 Irish primary school lunchbox memories
Banana in the bottom of your schoolbag.

THESE DAYS IT’S all Lunchables this, Cheesestrings that and fancy ready made drinks as far as the eye can see.

We’re celebrating the school lunches of yore with a look back at a simpler times…

1. A flask of soup

A myriad of delicacies awaited you inside your Rainbow Brite/Bosco/He-Man/Fraggle Rock/Sheera Thermos.

Would it be oxtail? Cream of vegetable? Or that heady cocktail of scotch broth?

My Mom just found my old lunchbox in the back of a cupboard. - Imgur Imgur Imgur

Knorr_Rich_Oxtail_Soup_50g_Sachet Theafricancorner Theafricancorner

2. Sandwiches with a hint of banana/mandarin

You were either a ‘fruit inside the lunchbox’ child or a ‘fruit tossed into the schoolbag’ child.

Both had their ups and downs.

Fruit in the lunchbox meant that everything else was tainted with the taste. Cheese sandwiches with a hint of banana anyone?

yuck_that_70s_show Reactiongifs Reactiongifs

Fruit in the bottom of the bag meant battered mandarins and bits of pear on the corners of your Busy at Maths.

bruised but unbroken scottog scottog

3. Diluted orange

Robinsons Orange has been keeping Irish children hydrated for decades now. The trick was getting the water/orange ratio just right.

If you were swanky you might have a special dedicated lunch bottle to bring your orange to school with.

Most of the time though it was a recycled Cadet Cola or Ballygowan Sports bottle.

Dan Waller / YouTube

Psst everyone knew Capri Sun was just glorified diluted orange, but it was so, so much better.

IMG_1077 MPD01605 MPD01605

4. Leftovers

Roast chicken for dinner on Sunday? Well then it was roast chicken sandwiches for lunch on Monday. And Tuesday, if your mam could get it to stretch far enough.

today's sandwich inazakira inazakira

A more exciting form of lunch leftover occurred if there had been a birthday celebration in the house the night before. There was little more intoxicating or envy-earning than producing a slice of cake (preferably from Superquinn) wrapped in tinfoil.

5. Petit Filous

Walk into any primary school classroom and you will be greeted by an overwhelming smell of pencil parings and slightly gone of yoghurt.

King amongst these yoghurts is the humble Petit Filous, and it’s swanky cousin, the Frube.

strawberry_raspberry_54g Petitsfilous Petitsfilous

6. Soda Stream

Those lucky enough to have a Soda Stream machine and parents sound enough to replenish the supply of gas and flavoured syrup could feel sufficiently smug about swigging out of one of those special bottles.

bottles Ebay Ebay

It was a kick in the teeth if you were forced to carry inferior diluted orange in the Soda Stream bottle. Or even worse… milk.

7. Mystery bars

Supermarket own brand chocolate bars frequently come in a mystery wrapping. Were you getting a wafer? A biscuit? Some caramel perhaps? Who knew?


8. Fancy bars

Any brand name bar on special offer was sure to make it into school lunchboxes.

Favourites included:

McVitie’s Gold

mcvities-gold-bar Wordpress Wordpress

Rocky Bars


Club Milks

club Food Ireland Food Ireland

United bars

united via commenter Eimear Borgman via commenter Eimear Borgman

Nina Perez / YouTube

9. Pringles

Remember these? If you were lucky enough to have Pringles to bring for lunch and it wasn’t even Christmas, you were sorted with your special Pringles transporter.

pringles-case_2358 Alleewillis Alleewillis

10. Billy Roll

Another source of great envy in classrooms across Ireland. Less swanky sandwich fillings included haslet, corned beef and that mysterious beast ‘pork, onion and tomato’.

2tzfndR Imgur Imgur

You can even buy a Billy Roll tshirt.


11. Wagon Wheels

Now regularly available for €1 a packet, there was a time when Wagon Wheels were the height of sophistication and a much coveted lunch item.

What we used to eat: Wagon Wheels brizzle born and bred brizzle born and bred

Shout out to the underrated jam version too.

12.  Tiny cartons of milk

Warm, slightly leaking, unmanageable straw hole. Ah the memories.

Ireland launches school milk scheme PA Archive / Press Association Images PA Archive / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

13. Forgetting your lunch

The ultimate humiliation.

First, there was the crushing realisation.

realisation Thedailytouch Thedailytouch

Then came the teacher asking who had anything spare to donate. Before long you had the crust off a peanut butter sandwich, half a hazelnut yoghurt and the black bit of a banana sitting in front of you. Grim.

15 things that everyone did in primary school>

The 8 smells of Irish primary school>

Your Voice
Readers Comments