As many of us head back to school or the office, looking for convenient ways to bring lunch from home can be a challenge. The OmieBox is an adorable bento box that has a 4.3-star rating and more than 5000 reviews on Amazon, plus it comes with a circular thermos bowl, which promises to keep hot food warm and cold snacks chill. But, does it actually deliver on the hype? To find out, I had Omie send me one of its boxes to test out.
One of the first things that I noticed about the OmieBox when it arrived was how it was packed—the unique bubble wrap inside the shipping container was as cute as the bento box itself. It came with a manual, which seemed extensive for a simple lunch container. Inside, the instructions outlined how to take care of the box. According to the company, high temperatures and certain detergents commonly used in dishwashers can damage the OmieBox, so washing it by hand is recommended. This seems like a big ask, though, especially for a product intended for daily use.
After opening the box and installing the lid seal, I inspected the interior compartments. The OmieBox is made with BPA-free double insulated plastic walls and features two rectangular sections—one horizontally at the top of the box, another on the left side with one adjustable wall—and a central square section, which holds the circular thermos bowl. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with utensils, but you can purchase a set on Amazon for an additional fee.
According to Nancy Yen, founder and CEO of OmieBox, this box is intended for children between the ages of 3 to 5 years old, and is designed to contain foods that a kid around that age would probably eat. When I tried it out, I found that the rectangular compartments are ideal for carrot sticks, a juice box, and maybe some grapes. For parents who are shopping for compact alternatives to traditional lunch boxes, this box’s small size could be a major selling point. However, if you’re looking to have a side salad with your lunch or something more substantial, this bento box probably won’t offer enough space.
My biggest issue with the interior of this bento box pertains to design—mostly, the circular thermos bowl in the main square section and its lid. It takes up a lot of space in the box and in my opinion, it seems as though you could potentially fit more inside of it if the circular thermos bowl were a different shape. But, according to Yen, the thermos’s shape is crucial to its functionality, because it helps to provide a vacuum seal that’s important for food storage.
The circular thermos bowl is made from stainless steel and is supposed to eliminate heat transfer, so it won’t feel warm or cold to the touch. I poured hot water into it (to simulate what it could be like with different types of broth) and let it sit for about two hours. Over that span of time, I touched the thermos periodically and found that it was warm to the touch, which is contrary to what the brand suggests.
When the thermos is in the box, it has a plastic square collar. Yen noted that this is to ensure that it doesn’t move around when you’re using the OmieBox. When a friend and I tried to screw the lid back onto the thermos, we couldn’t get it to work, especially when the plastic square collar was in place. The helix of threads didn’t connect easily and seems like it could make the box frustrating to use for a child. While not scalding hot or dangerous, the thermos was still warm to the touch, which made screwing the lid back on personally difficult for me.
At first glance, there’s a lot about the OmieBox that could be appealing, especially to parents who are shopping for kid-friendly lunch boxes. It’s cute, compact, and the interior compartments make it easy to store snacks and other bite-sized portions. But in my testing, the circular thermos bowl, lid, and plastic square collar posed some usability issues, which could be problematic for others, too.
To learn more about OmieBox products, head on over to Amazon.
This piece has been updated for clarity and with additional product information from Omie.