Nostalgia Alert: What Was in A 90’s School Tiffin Box?
Image Credit: 90’s School Tiffin Box

It is almost tough to imagine life as it had been pre-pandemic. However, in the last couple of years, (almost) humanity saw a complete turnaround in all aspects imaginable. Children now have a very different idea of social interactions, friendships, and sharing than earlier generations. Harking back to the ’90s, you might recollect the awesomeness around everything back then. From the way you partied to the way you enjoyed a television show--there had been a possibility of enjoying much with so little in hand. 

Schools meant a place where a 90’s kid found another home--most of us got so cosy inside the school that we barely wanted to go back home. Lunch breaks were the icing on the cake back then. The 90’s kids had never needed lessons to share. Tiffin time meant open-box sessions where you gorged--it never mattered what box was the source. 

The idea of food for lunch or tiffin, as popular back then, was simple. You never ate your meal alone. That was meant to be shared while you got another box from someone else. Let us recall the top five tiffin items the 90’s kids mainly carry to school lunch.

Ketchup And Parantha

While the one-off buddy brought in a proper pack of paranthas with achaar or curry, ketchup was thought of as a 'sabzi' to gobble with paranthas. The paranthas mainly were not stuffed. The 90’s moms might have been smart enough to evade too hard work in the mornings! However, the semi-warm soggy parathas from someone else's home tasted heavenly with the Maggi Ketchup on the sides. Oh yes, someone from the group would have a trickle of the red beauty on the white shirt too!


Kids today swear by doughnuts and crisps or cookies. Back then, patties were a huge hit. The humble patty was multiple layers of flour rolled with sticky vanaspati to fluff up and attract kids back then. Some moms put in patties (never known as a patty--mind you) to please their child back then. The filling on the inside was minuscule. You barely got the feel or taste of it. Nevertheless, the flaky mess of the patties created memories that stayed strong even so many years later.

Khaman Dhokla

Back then, most veggie households ensured that their kiddos got a tightly packed box of khaman dhokla. The tempering of mustard and chilli on the top brings back childhood memories more than anything else. Mind you, and the dhokla wasn’t the flimsy half-broken ones available on the racks today. They were well-formed, pretty weighty and tasted much better than the 'shop' wale dhokla of the current time. The Jain and Marwari friends mostly carried such stuff and incredible tasting sweet chutneys on the side. Mouth-watering, to say the least!!

French Toast

There was that one friend who would carry a box full of French Toast--the desi version of egg coated bread fried on a pan--for tiffin. These boxes were almost over between class periods and barely lasted until lunch. The accompaniment again would be ketchup, and the 90’s gangs back then would mostly have been guilty of overpowering the tiffin owner to get hands-on all the bread slices!

Pondering On An Optimistic Note

The ’90s were an era. Perhaps being part of that brigade makes me attached to the nostalgia of everything from that age. However, undeniably, the decade of the ’90s shaped many cultural changes and was life-changing in its way. The tiffin of the ’90s as a means to bond, form friendships, and ensure that food was an equalizer. How I wish the pandemic passes over us in a way that kids finally start to have each other’s lunchboxes and get to make memories that define their formative years.

Satarupa B. Kaur has been writing professionally for a decade now. But, always on the go, she loves to travel, books, playtime with her toddler as she explores new places and food!