Elaborate Bento Boxes and Other School Lunch Art Look Cool, but Draw Criticism

Staff Writer
Does drawing fancy doodles on your kid’s lunch bag or making their sandwich into Pikachu makes you look like a show-off?
Elaborate Bento Boxes and Other School Lunch Art Look Cool, but Draw Criticism
Photo Courtesy of Samantha Lee

It used to be all about the turkey sandwich in the brown paper bag, but now that’s so passé.

Re-creating Vermeer’s famous “Girl with a Pearl Earring” with rice, seaweed, cabbage, crab stick, and an omelette for a kid going off to school sounds somewhere between impressive and utterly ridiculous. But that’s just one of the lunch art creations that Samantha Lee, a professional food artist, has made for her lucky tykes. She’s also fashioned the Evil Queen from Snow White out of rice balls and carefully sliced seaweed, an edible Little Orphan Annie with hair made from scrambled eggs doused in ketchup, and more.

It may sound crazy, but Lee is not alone. Elaborate bento boxes featuring animals, dinosaurs, puzzle pieces, and kids’ favorite characters are all over Pinterest. (We even did a round-up of the most adorable creations.) Then there’s a whole category of artsy moms and dads who regularly doodle elaborate artwork on their kids’ brown paper bags, or on the napkins inside, like this dad who draws a really impressive Groot, Godzilla, Na’vi, and more for his kids every day.

But these artistically inclined moms and dads have received their fair share of criticism from people who think that the “rich” parents clearly have too much money and time on their hands to waste on cutting bread into Pokémon characters, when many working parents don’t even have the time to cut the crusts of their kids’ PB&J.

"A lot of moms were very critical," Derek Benson, the man behind Lunchbag Art, told NPR. "They'd say things like... 'Must be nice to have a maid so you can have all this free time.'”

But more often than not, NPR says, these Pinterest-popular parents are professional artists or crafters who just want to find another way to connect with their kids. 

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