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HELLO DO NOT BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ ON THE INTERNET!

UPDATE: Geek Dad claims to have contacted the original authorwith dubious results. As in he did not confirm the story was true, but said the parents “had a laugh.”

This week a lot of people are sharing a “story” that originated on Imgur/Reddit:

Letter a friend of mine’s daughter received from school today. Her Wonder Woman lunchbox features a violent super hero that does not comply with the school’s dress code. Pictures of the lunchbox are also attached. (m.imgur.com)


Along with a letter. purportedly from the school board, telling the parent that little Laura’s Wonder Woman lunchbox promoted violence, was a picture of said lunchbox — and gasp, horror it was a benign Wonder Woman item seemingly based on that Jose Luis Garcia Lopez style guide everyone was gushing about the other day. Good god! Political correctness run amok! Are we raising a generation of pansies, think of the children blah blah.

The story has been picked up about 8 trillion times since then, everywhere from The Mary Sue to EW to People to ACTUAL REAL NEWSPAPERS. Even Lynda Carter has gotten involved.

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All based on a single unsourced, uncredited photo posted by a user who has since deleted their account. A poster who wasn’t even the parent but “A friend.” I mean, come on.

When I first saw this I was outraged for about two seconds before I began wondering “Why does a little girl have an old 70s lunchbox?” I thought about linking for a minute but then thought, nah, I’ll wait until the parents come out and the school comes out and people actually talk about this because Day 2 stories are usually way more interesting any way.

And that never happened.

Because there never was any letter from a school about little Laura’s lunchbox.

The whole thing is a hoax. Or a joke. I’ll let Snopes explain:

Atypically for a virally popular story such as this one, no one involved has stepped forward (even anonymously) to provide more detail. Commonly in instances when a story such as this one this spreads from blog to blog, the individuals behind the story (who, in this instance, would have little to lose) supply additional background about it. In this instance, the original user apparently deleted the post rather than court the attention that follows moderate blogosphere fame.

Oddly, the letter itself was addressed not to Mr./Mrs./Ms. Lastname, but to “Daniel and Sarah.” Not only does the use of first names not match general conventions for school-to-parent correspondence, but exceptionally-common first names provide more of a barrier to fact-checking than the use of a surname. (All the images appeared to have been photographed by the original poster, who did not explain how they came to be in possession of both the letter and a friend’s child’s beloved Wonder Woman lunch box.)

Moreover, the Wonder Woman lunch box shown in the photograph is made of metal (a style of school lunch tote that has fallen out of favor). Unsubstantiated rumors hold that a metal lunch box ban has been in effect in schools since at least the 2000s; and while that may or may not be true in individual school districts, a browse of current lunch box offerings suggests that even plastic, hard-sided boxes have ceded market share to soft, zippered totes. By contrast, metal lunch boxes are primarily sold as collectibles or novelties in most retail markets.


I’ll reiterate again that THE ORIGINAL POSTER WASN’T EVEN ONE OF THE PARENTS. It was “a friend.” 

A friend. Seriously, how do people fall for this malarkey?

This story has been read millions of times, and how many times do you think this post or the Snopes post will be shared or read? 

This had actually been much on my mind today and I was going to write something but then I came across something I wrote two years ago that said the exact same thing. Okay, good call on Ultron/Jarvis, that much is true. But the rest isn’t. 

I’ll remind people here that I only run stories that pass my sniff test or have been authenticated in some way. Of course I make mistakes, but at least I didn’t tut tut and shake my head over some bozo’s plan to promote his vintage lunchbox. 

And now a call to action, because today I’m shameless. If you want to support independent journalism that doesn’t just pick up headlines from viral content farms, consider giving a buck or two to the Beat’s Patreon. Every dollar does help, whether allowing me more time to work on this site, allowing me to pay people to help with the site, or to reinvest in updates and backups. I’ll never, ever get rich doing this, but it hasn’t stopped me yet.

27 COMMENTS

  1. Yep, people are sheep. The first time I saw this on a friend’s feed I’m like, “whats the name of the school?” no one knew. Then I asked where it came from. Reddit. Figured it was fake. It’s actually scary that so many are willing to rant and rave on cheap that isn’t real. Do research.

  2. The internet at its’ worst is the modern day equivalent of a mob with torches.

    Too bad so many of its’ users don’t follow Stan Lee’s old rule: with great power comes great responsibility.

  3. But Heidi, the SNOPES piece doesn’t disprove it at all – it just reiterates the same arguments that some guy was tweeting at me earlier this week. Teachers do send notes home to parents using first names – I have received many such notes. The reason the parents and school’s name isn’t show is because it is covered up by a napkin. And the lunch box isn’t some “old 70s lunch box” – it’s readily available on for sale on Zulily right now http://www.zulily.com/p/yellow-wonder-woman-square-lunchbox-68141-6835408.html
    Schools do have zero tolerance rules for stupid stuff like girls wear their clothes that should neck bones or yoga pants on girls because they “distract” boys.
    http://www.today.com/style/high-school-adds-dress-code-restrictions-yoga-pants-leggings-amid-t41136
    The idea that they would ban superheroes because of a no violence policy sounds reasonable to me actually given the other stuff. The sad part for me is that Wonder Woman who used to be a symbol for love.

  4. The reason people buy into this so easily is because of zero-tolerance culture at schools making it easy to believe. I went to school in the 90s; I remember a glorious time where not only were you permitted to dye your hair blue (in most public schools anyway) but they wouldn’t kick you out for it. Then Columbine happened and suddenly everyone’s expected to wear grey overalls and shave their heads, not speak, and stare straight ahead at all times. Because solving the causes of school violence like bullying, poor mental health care, and abuse at home is too hard.

  5. It is a Vandor Gifts lunch box discontined 2013, so no, it isn’t old. I have the batman and superman tin lunch boxes in my store only a few feet away so the argument that they don’t make this or any metal lunch boxes is incorrect.

  6. @dethtoll As a high school teacher who had a student with blue hair this past year who did not suffer any repercussions , I’d suggest you stop falling for the same kind of false stories as this Wonder Woman lunchbox one.

  7. Just imagine if you fact checked more stories that “everywhere from The Mary Sue to EW to People to ACTUAL REAL NEWSPAPERS” post instead of just parroting them as usual how many more inaccuracies reported as fact you’ll discover.

  8. Such hypocrisy! Did The Beat not run items this week based on Bleeding Cool “reporting”?

    When it feeds one’s decades old animus towards a former employer, rumor is acceptable, one guesses…

  9. Sue — I don’t deny that the story sounds PLAUSIBLE — probably why do many people believed it. And who knows, the friend may yet step forward. But I’d still file it under unlikely.

    Erkel537 — my story was based on my own independent reporting. Rish literally beat me to the post — fairplay — but I’m pretty sure we had different sources. And there is more to come. Oy.

  10. I appreciate that the Beat writes up the source of claims. And this site doesn’t call for pitchforks and mobs on unverified stories. Other sites are good for hearing the latest rumor and speculation, and for activism. Not so much for news.

    That makes The Comics Beat unique among comics journalism sites. Sometimes we do need to get angry, but we can’t use anger constructively unless reports like this separate the facts from fictions from unknowns.

  11. I think whether or not this, or any other specific examples, are true is less important than:
    1) Why are legitimate news sources, or even supposedly ‘respected’ blog sites running stories like this without properly fact checking them first?
    2) Why are people so quick to buy in to stories like this as being true *without* supporting evidence?

    The first question, IMO, comes down to ‘If it bleeds, it leads’. A sensationalist headline is going to draw more eyes, and a sensationalist article is going to generate more shares then a sober, objective one. It’s unfortunate that news outlets put profit over ethical journalism, but the fault is ultimately on all of us as a society for constantly ignoring accurate and vetted, but boring, stories in favor of the sensational crap.

    As for the second, I think the internet promotes a culture of outrage addiction and righteous indignation, where having ammunition for your cause is more important than the truth of the information. If someone decides that they’re angry/outraged/offended by something, they can instantly retreat to an echo-chamber filled with similarly outraged individuals, where they can pat each other on the back for being ‘right’, ramp up their anger, and bully anyone who suggests an objective second look and appraisal of facts into submission. Then take their theater of anger on the road once they feel like they’ve reached critical mass.

  12. This article by Heidi MacDonald is not true. the media has contacted the parents and even posted the letter from the school board. This is as true as if it was posted on The Onion. you sheeps by into this crap way to easy.

  13. MY EYES ARE ROLLING. Even after I called Fox8 here in Cleveland to inform the station that the Wonder Woman lunch box story was a hoax, they still ran the story on this evening’s newscast. Idiots.

  14. And yet you still haven’t provided enough tangible evidence that it isn’t true. Just thrown out presumptions based on assumptions. So we’re still at square one. It’s entirely possible the person who posted the original pic and letter doesn’t want to get involved in a media fire storm and is keeping the name of the school anonymous. I’d commend her for that. Even Snopes didn’t debunk it. They just said since this is presumably true then this presumably can’t be true. So go do some more homework because you’re being hypocritical.

  15. To reiterate, if any one has any ACTUAL PROOF that this story is true—proof meaning an actual child, an actual lunchbox, an actual school or an actual parent—aside from an anonymous, unsourced letter, I will pay them $100.

  16. Send better rebuttals. A moment at the cleverly named “lunchboxes.com” turns up many metal school lunchboxes, some made in a deliberate retro style. In fact, it prompts a moment’s reflection on whether Ariel (The Little Mermaid) and Elsa (Frozen) used violence to resolve their problems. I remember a whirlpool consuming the evil witch in “Mermaid”, but Elsa…?

    I digress. “Wonder Woman” lunchboxes aren’t being promoted there and it seems early for movie-related stuff to be available, but this Snopes argument about metal lunchboxes doesn’t hold.

  17. And another moment turns up a “Wonder Woman Tin Tote Lunch Box” for $25 at Amazon. Different pic on front. From Vandor, as noted by commenters above.

  18. I can quit anytime… At SuperHeroStuff.com, shop for “Wonder Woman Lovely Aphrodite Square Tin Tote” and you will see the very lunchbox had been available for $15.99. They are sold out, but from the reviews I glean that there were three satisfied customers from 2014, which is not so long ago.

  19. Sorry – now I am trying to square this from the comments by Ms MacDonald:
    “But I’d still file it under unlikely.”

    with the headline to this post which to my tired eyes reads:

    “NO a school did not ban a cute Wonder Woman lunchbox”.

    What happened to “no means no”?

    For my money, Snopes knew that hadn’t fully rebutted this when they wrote “unsubstantiated” and “dubious”. But those are not synonyms for “false”.

  20. Tom Maguire, do you have ANY EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER THAT THIS STORY TOOK PLACE?

    A lunchbox is for sale. That has nothing whatsoever to do with a child being sent home from school because of that lunchbox.

    I’m upping my bounty on the Lunchbox story to $250! ANY ACTUAL PROOF gets $250.

    Of course, this is a country where thousands of people still believe our president was born in Kenya despite there not being one single solitary shred of evidence — or even a timeline — that would suggest this happened.

    People believe what they want, and facts are not necessary.

  21. Do I have any evidence it happened? Sure – the flimsy and unconvincing original posts. Beyond that, of course not.

    I do have evidence that the Snopes rebuttal is inconclusive (as they admit), and I have evidence that this post’s author has taken two of the three available sides (True, False, Unknown).

    “People believe what they want, and facts are not necessary.”

    You seem to want to believe this story is false, based on your headline. Or might be false, depending on where we look in the comments section. Puzzling.

Comments are closed.