As the kids break out the lunchboxes and we look for lunch-packing inspiration, we asked a handful of restaurant owners and chefs to reveal their favorite childhood treats. (Clearly, old habits die hard—it’s easy to see why these folks opened the restaurants they did.)

“Every once in a while, in the Yoda thermos of my Return of the Jedi lunchbox, I’d find chocolate milk. I’d even trade the good chips (Pringles, Doritos) for any sort of cookie to dunk. PB&J is fantastic dipped in chocolate milk.” —Jon Schlegel, founder/co-owner, Snooze

“I loved tomatoes, so my mom would always put raw tomatoes in my lunch. I would eat them like apples.” —Amy Vitale, co-owner/chef, Tables

“I was always excited to have a thermos in my lunchbox. I was enamored by the fact that it could keep something hot for hours and hours. It didn’t matter [what was in it]—soup, spaghetti—it was the thing I was most excited about.” —John Davidson, owner, The Crushery

“My favorite thing was actually peanut butter and butter on white bread. My mom made the best chocolate-chip cookies, too, so they were an occasional bonus!” —Leigh Jones, owner, Jonesy’s EatBar and The Bar Car

“I loved finding dessert, like Jell-O pudding cups, Fruit Roll-Ups, and, of course, Hostess snacks.” —Denon Moore, owner, Cake Crumbs

“Fruit salad, celery, or carrot sticks and a handwritten note from my mom. It was a little unusual for a child to actually want to eat their veggies, or even fruit, but I remember loving their freshness, crunchy texture, and the rainbow of colors.” —Kelly Liken, chef/owner, Restaurant Kelly Liken

Readers: Tweet us with your favorite lunchtime find.

Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at