Lunch time is getting a little more attention and not just from fast-food companies or the makers of children's lunch boxes and reusable bags. The new focus is on lunches that adults pack for themselves.
New brands like Box Appetit and products from Contain This! are made of plastics, as their producers introduce their own takes on ways to keep sandwiches, salads and other lunch foods tasting better. But they are joined by well-established firms like Aladdin, whose new products for the adult lunch crowd feature plastic collapsible bowls and containers.
Everybody's got a special diet these days like gluten-free or low-carb, and they want to make healthy choices about lunch, but they don't have a good way to take lunch, said Molly Drews, who was helping to introduce the Contain This! sandwich keeper at the International Home + Housewares Show, held March 6-8 in Chicago.
Aladdin, part of Seattle-based Pacific Market International, has been putting out lines of polypropylene containers for the past two years, but the company is moving up with a series of collapsible bowls for everything from storing salads and soups to steaming fresh vegetables in the office microwave.
There have not been a lot of these on the market previously, said Jenn Ottele, marketing manager for the Aladdin brand.
Aladdin spent 18 months developing a set of bowls that integrate thermoplastic elastomer bands into PP structures, allowing users to collapse them into smaller pieces for storage or to take up less space in commuter bags once they're empty. The bowls have threaded lids that keep soup or other wet items from leaking out.
A collapsible salad set comes with separate bowls to hold dressing or dry items like croutons and keep them crunchy until lunch time. The lunch line's steamer features a specially vented lid for cooking up veggies at work.
London-based design group Black+Blum Ltd. uses PP and Tritan copolyester from Eastman Chemical Co. for its Box Appétit, which includes separate containers for soups and sauces that fit together into one product that's easier to carry and use.
Will Archie, founder of Contain This! LLC in San Mateo, Calif., said it was easy to target the most popular lunch item for his firm's PP and Tritan product.
Whenever I talk to people, I ask, 'Do you take lunch to work?' and they all tell me that they take sandwiches, Archie said. Then I asked what happens to it by the time they have a chance to eat it, and they talk about soggy bread.
Contain This! products provide separate sections for items like meat, cheese, bread and lettuce, which can be assembled into a sandwich later, so the bread stays fresh and the lettuce crisp. The container has a gel pack that can be popped into a freezer and packed with the food to keep everything cool.