Sandwiches in Waxed Paper-German School Lunch in an American Cafeteria


The school cafeteria in the 1970’s was one place where I always felt different from everyone else. Mom packed my school lunch for me almost every day, and I loved these lunches, but it’s amazing how different mine were from the kids around me.

You see, although  I had a Scooby Doo lunchbox like the other kids, the contents were worlds apart.

The other kids opened their lunchbox and pulled out clear ziplock baggies containing a sandwich made from Peanut Butter and Jelly on Wonder bread (maybe with the crusts cut off) , next to this would be a bag of Potato chips (also in a ziplock) or a Twinkie (in it’s cellophane wrapping), and maybe an apple or orange.  It all looked so neatly packaged; square sandwich in a square bag, cake made in a factory, fruit… nice.

sandwich in waxed paper

Is Your Bread BURNT??

Then I’d pull out mine. Thuringer Salami or Gelbwurst on dark crusted rye bread spread with butter, and wrapped in waxed paper. There would be piece of cake or cookies home made from mom’s kitchen, or German Lebkuchen from a package that Opa sent; and fruit, of course (mostly citrus… because of dad’s work). On the best days, there was a thermos filled with leftover Eintopf (soup or stew). Bohnen Eintopf, Graupen Suppe, Goulaschsuppe (Green Bean Soup, Barley Soup, Goulash Soup).

The other kids would stare… and someone would always say “WHAT’S THAT?” and “why is  your bread burned??”


Everyone else would be trading, but they thought my food looked too weird.


And BUTTER on the sandwiches instead of Mayo? Kids were confused.

german school lunch

I loved my sandwiches in waxed paper, and I really loved mom’s Eintopf, so it wasn’t so bad to not share.

I was curious though. (Who wouldn’t be?) At the front of our cafeteria was a box for extras. ( In those days you didn’t waste food by throwing it away, the Cafeteria ladies would watch!) If there was a sandwich or fruit you didn’t want to eat… you put it in the box, and if you were hungry, you could take something out. I remember sometimes taking one of these exotic sandwiches out to try….things like Oscar Meyer Bologna or Peanut Butter and banana on squishy bread.

I even convinced mom to buy American bologna (never could convince her to make the sandwich with mustard instead of butter though…)

Times  Change, Sandwiches Stay the Same

It’s funny though how things change. When my kids were small, we lived near San Francisco, where the food revolution made “artisan” breads “gourmet”. Charcuterie shops sell specialty cold cuts that look an awful lot like what my mom would feed us all those years ago.

Just like my mom did, I packed my kid’s lunches... but now in the school cafeteria, my kids have people fighting to trade peanut butter for their delicious Salami, Schinken or Gelbwurst!

The only difference…. I don’t use waxed paper anymore…. Maybe I should.

Find Lunch Supplies to make Sandwiches in waxed paper HERE….

Swiss Farmers LoafSwiss Farmers LoafThe Brot BoxRye Crust Bread 1 kgRye Crust Bread 1 kgThe Brot Box




Waxtex Wax Paper Roll (75 feet) - Pack of 3Waxtex Wax Paper Roll (75 feet) – Pack of 3Waxtex Wax Paper Roll (75 feet) - Pack of 3Thermos Funtainer 10 Ounce Food Jar, TealThermos Funtainer 10 Ounce Food Jar, TealThermos Funtainer 10 Ounce Food Jar, Teal



german sandwiches


19 thoughts on “Sandwiches in Waxed Paper-German School Lunch in an American Cafeteria

  1. I use the wax paper buggies and reuse them until they wear out. Less guilt for me and better for the earth.

    1. Ok. It’s official… I need to switch back to waxed paper.

  2. This made me chuckle because my German parents made me the same type of sandwiches for school lunches wrapped in waxed paper. And, yes, my mom always put butter on my sandwiches instead of mustard. I don’t think I started using mayonnaise or mustard on my sandwiches until I was out of college! This article brought back some great memories. Thank you!

    1. I still can’t eat sandwiches with Mayo…it’s butter or Mustard!!! You are most welcome.

  3. Toppits Butterbrotpapier or Butterbrotbeutel, what you can also use to copy something by tracing 🙂
    Ohh I’m glad I found it in a supermarket here in North Italy. I am sure they only import it for the German majority here. Even today it attracts weird looks if you pull out a not very German tuna sandwich only wrapped in PAPER :O ! All the Italians around me use so much Plastic for everything, many students even only have plastic plates. Of course my friend Lisbeth and I had to go to a Flohmarkt immediately to buy some porcelain for our Valentina. She didn’t want them, but we are happy to eat from “real” plates when we are visiting her now. We also had a very long discussion about the fact that a plastic cup is certainly not and can never be a Glas but only a Plastikbecher.
    I enjoy your stories a lot! And I guess we German face the same problems everywhere even I we are close to home.
    Thank you for sharing your stories and thoughts!

  4. I too, still eat butter on my sandwiches, and when I eat my lunch at work people ask me about my weird food…lol….like herring, or pumpernickel bread with swiss cheese and hard salami….

  5. When I lived in Germany, my lunch was packed in cute little Dosen (Danke geliebte Gastmutter!). When I returned to America, I forgot to bring my Dose! I haven’t been able to find them since, has anyone else found them?

  6. Schaller & Weber Lyoner bologna on rye wrapped in aluminum foil!

  7. Well, we lived in a German area so no one ever really commented on what we ate. I remember eating dark bread very early on and loved it! Mom bought it at the bakery, it was so good! We also had types of meats you show here for sandwiches. As a little kid I remember the meats the butcher had, even lamb tongue! For school, Mom even made me meatloaf sandwiches or fried egg with dill pickles. I would get upset if she ever gave me PB&J! There were even odder things she sent me for lunch, such as a hotdog in a thermos to keep it hot! LOL She did not buy the usual cookies like Oreos or anything like that, but did send some of her yummy homemade cake or goodies. Maybe because I went to school in the early 60s things were different. Food used to be not so mass produced and I really think we had much better lunches and meals than what kids get now a days.

    1. Oh, and I had a sandwich with dark bread for dinner. I always put butter on my sandwiches still!

    2. True! Now my daughter insists on a real lunch… so I fill her thermos with leftovers or soup.

  8. I attended elementary school during WW2 but just about 1/4 mile from our house was a a German butcher, Alexander & Hornumg. Every Saturday my mother sent me off with about $5. and a list: Which I rattled off in German to the utter delight of the butchers behind the counter: Ein half Pfund Schinkenwurst, am Stück. 1/2 Pfund Jagtwurst 1/2 grope Leberwurst, eine Teewurst, Viertelpfund blutwurst, Alles am Stück, 1/4 pf. Lachsschinken dünn geschnitten usw. Some of that sausage found its way onto my sandwiches–alway s buttered–during the week. and always wrapped in waxed paper. Plastic in no form was available until after the war. I still remember saving up cereal box tops for a plastic “breakfast set:” saucer, bowl and juice glass. It was like today’s toy dishes in quality. When the juice glass cracked we threw it into the furnace as we did all trash, and watched with fascination as it MELTED!

  9. I grew up in Australia in the 80’s with an Austrian mother. This was exactly my life also. I always had salami, mettwurst, Leberkase or similar and always got teased about it. I work in a school now and the variety of food children eat now is amazing and no one questions anyone else’s food. Times have changed for the better!

    1. true…These days kids seem to be more open, at least here were I live in California

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!