As a kid, I was obsessed with having Lunchables. My parents, coming from a generation where gathering lunch meant possible death from bear attack, didn’t understand my desire. They thought that lunch meant having something large and satisfying, rather than tiny and pizzaesque. They ignored my pleas and packed me massive sandwiches, huge juices, and bags of chips that were often meant to feed an entire barbecue. Sure, I left school full, but I sure as hell didn’t leave it rad.
This Lunchables commercial brings us two characters: one child who is socially adjusted (probably due to his Lunchables intake), and a thieving creep. We know that the first kid is normal because he opens the commercial giving a friend a handshake. The other child, destined to “borrow” money from his peers and ignore child support payments for the rest of his life, sees this as an opportunity to replace the first kid’s lunch with a brown box marked “NEW LUNCHABLES.”
Look at how they’re dressed. The kid on the left has this sweet plaid shirt outfit. He wakes up in the morning cool, and breaks a dozen hearts before the bell for recess. The kid on the right wears this old sweater, made of loose threads and rat feces from the attic where he probably sleeps. When the kid on the left notices this ploy, he confronts the child on the right. The kid on the right plays it off by saying “Oh, you got the new one too. That’s great!” Psychological manipulation is this kid’s forte. Rather than even accepting that a problem has been identified, he attempts to raise the other kid’s self-esteem by continuing the lie of the “NEW LUNCHABLE.”
The kid on the left, who we’ll call “Mr. Cool” for the rest of the article, draws an old shoe out of the box. The kid on the right, who we’ll call “Willard”, feints seeming flummoxed by this discovery. He offers up the explanation that it might be some new promotion. Did his parents teach him to lie like that? Did his LACK OF PARENTS teach him to lie like that? And instantly, Lunchables brings up a larger problem than just lunch stealing: the home life of troubled youth.
Why are these kids sitting next to each other? They’re not friends, and if they were, this Lunchables Trojan Horse would ultimately be seen as a sign of intense betrayal. Why does Mr. Cool have to sit beside the kid who, sometimes unwittingly, collects moths?
Mr. Cool pats Willard on the shoulder, knowingly and sympathetically. Its reassurance brought upon by years of familiarity. Friends or not, Mr. Cool knows the kind of kid that Willard is, and knows that Willard can’t help trying to pull a Raiders of the Lost Ark with his shoebox full of false meals. The commercial ends with Willard trying to pawn off his NEW LUNCHABLE to a girl named Emily. She refuses, and leaves Willard dejected and starving.
If the commercial had been ten seconds longer, it would’ve shown you a more horrifying conclusion. Unless he can find someone to trade with, Willard is gonna have to eat that shoe. The school systems of America have failed children in ways so vast that not only is Willard going to have to go without a standard, nutritious lunch, he’s going to have to devour his own fucking footwear if he plans on relieving his hunger. It’s a sad world that Lunchables presents to us, but it’s a world that is all too real.