12 Photos of 20th Century Lunch Time


According to the 2013 Visa Lunch Survey, Americans over the age of 18 spend an average of $936 per year on lunch. But lunch wasn't always a frantic trip to buy a burrito, or an $8 salad made mostly of romaine lettuce. And believe it or not, students used to have more than 15 minutes to wolf down the contents of their cafeteria tray. To commemorate the good old days when lunches weren't eaten in front of the computer, here are 12 pictures of 20th century lunches. 

1. Sun and sandwiches

A group of kids enjoys a quick beach lunch in 1900.

2. Post-meal photo op

Workers at Chance Mine, a lead mine that might have been located in the Coeur d'Alene region of Idaho, eat their lunch in 1909.

3. Have food, will travel

A lunch wagon in Washington in 1909.

4. Lunch on the Train

Train passengers enjoy lunch in 1909.

5. A Friend you can count on

"A Noon Time Friend" sells lunches in 1918.

6. A break from the farm

Workers on a Brookeville, Md. farm break for lunch in 1937.

7. A Table for one

A steelworker eating lunch in his apartment in Aliquippa, Penn., in 1941.

8. Mid-day munch at the factory

Lunch hour at a Dodge truck plant in Detroit in 1942.

9. Just one more bite

A worker helps a less-than-thrilled child eat lunch at a Queens, N.Y. nursery school in 1942.

10. The News Doesn't Stop for Lunch

A financial desk copy reader at the New York Times eats lunch he ordered from outside the building in 1942. According to the Library of Congress, "Lunch in the news room is a half-hour period about 11 PM between editions."

11. Even Heroes Need Food

These "United Nations heroes" are enjoying a picnic lunch after swimming in Lake Ontario in Oswego, N.Y., in 1943 during United Nations Week.

12. Lunch Time on the Range

Workers eating lunch at a branding, 1978.

All images courtesy of the Library of Congress.