The Hunt for a Masculine Lunch Bag

Every couple of years, I go in search of a new lunch bag. It’s a horrific, painful and depressing journey. I don’t want polka dots or stripes or superheroes or anything that I’d be embarrassed to carry while reading my V.C. Andrews novels on the subway. All I want is a masculine lunch bag. And if you think that seems like a pretty simple request, have I got news for you, folks.

Here’s my current lunch bag. I got it at Crate and Barrel about three years ago. I was so happy when I found it, I sent out birth announcements.

But now it’s covered in tuna juice, the plastic liner smells like bad breath and the Velcro strip looks like…well, you tell me.

So, much to my chagrin, I was forced to venture on a dark journey of the soul. Today, I present my findings, dear reader. But be warned: it taint pretty. Even when it’s leopard patterned.

If Joan Collins took her lunch to work, this would be her bag. It would be stuffed with caviar, a thermos of champagne, pate and pair of large sunglasses rimmed with diamonds. She’d also keep a stash of condoms in there, given that she’s Joan Collins. 

I came across this masculine bag at The Drake General Store, but $45?!? If I’m someone who can afford a $45 hipster lunch bag from Japan, I wouldn’t be bringing my lunch every day, m’kay? Plus, there was no handle on the top, which was a deal-breaker because how do you carry this around? And what's up with those numbers? Looks like some kind of secret service tracking code. 

I saw this at Wal-Mart on Labour Day weekend. Do you know what the lunch bag section of Wal-Mart looks like on Labour Day weekend? In other life lessons, this is not a masculine lunch bag.

Not so much a lunch bag as a camouflage purse. I’m not sure who’d use this, but “hog wrestler” would probably be listed in the Hobbies section of their resume.

I got a tan after looking at this lunch bag. I also had a strong urge to put on legwarmers.

As a general rule, I prefer the donuts inside the lunch bag. The donuts with the green icing disturb me. And what flavour is the one with orange icing and blue squares?

I suppose this could be considered a masculine lunch bag. I suppose this could also be considered a barn.

This lunch bag came with its own in-ground pool. I thought that was a good selling feature, but I had to pass because who has time to swim on their lunch break?

I found this at Canadian Tire. It was too masculine. I’m not a lumberjack. I also don’t need to fit a rack of ribs, a six-pack and an entire McCain Deep 'n Delicious cake into my lunch bag.

I saw this one and thought, "Hey, not bad." Then I flipped it over.

Do you think carrying around your lunch in a tiny knapsack qualifies as masculine? I sure don’t. Sorry, Roots. 

I found this at Loblaw’s. It’s not a masculine lunch bag. And it smelled a little like PC Memories of Szechwan Spicy Peanut Satay Sauce.

I guess by definition this is a masculine lunch bag in that it features images of men with biceps the size of cantaloupes. But why be reminded of your freakishly twig-like arms every time you eat your lunch?

This is masculine. And it's ugly. What are you supposed to put in the side pocket? A slice of bologna?

I found this one at IKEA. It was perfect. So long as I had buckles on my shoes and sported a red beard and said things like, “Now what be yee wishes three, lassie?”

Things got so bad, I considered alternates. This bowling ball bag, for example.

It had a zipper and a handle, after all. And I think “Bea” Walker would appreciate seeing her bag get a second life. But, in the end, it was too bulky. It would also make my lunch smell like old balls. Sorry, “Bea."

Then I thought, “I’ll make my own frickin lunch bag.” So I got out a Ziploc bag and some tape. But given that it was see-through, I didn’t want everyone all up in my lunch business. Plus, someone would likely steal my hotdog bun.

A week later, I was speaking to my brother-in-law (who told me he crams his lunch into his briefcase) and he pointed me to a couple of lunch bag websites. While I don’t like ordering online (I prefer shopping via fax), I found what looked like a masculine lunch bag. A couple of weeks later, it arrived!

On the plus side, it’s made from recycled plastic bottles and doesn’t have polka-dots. On the down side, the strap is a little short. I’m concerned the bag will start to smell like my armpit. 

Also, what kind of brand name is U-Konserve? It’s not even spelled correctly. When you work in an office where people debate the use of semi-colons, I guarantee this will only ostracize me. 

The bag came to $42 after shipping – only three dollars less than the hipster lunch bag I couldn’t afford. Looks like I’m calling Mother for a loan. Again. In any case, I hope this lunch bag lasts me until retirement because I don’t ever want to do this bullshit again. 

While this journey has been painful, it has shown me that the world is in dire need of masculine lunch bags. So, given my business savvy and the sewing skills I acquired in Grade 8 Home Ec, I went to Fabricland, bought a giant roll of canvas, some thread and a lot of buttons. Watch my pitch for Brian’s Masculine Lunch Bags on Shark Tank in the months ahead. 

See you in the lunchroom.