Here are the items mentioned most often in an informal survey of about 70 bag-lunchers at Lafayette and John Eaton elementary schools:
Most popular sandwiches: PBJ, roast beef, bologna, ham, tuna and heroes (roughly: ham, cheese, lettuce, optional tomatoes, on French bread or roll, butter or mustard optional).
Not-as-popular: Plain peanut butter, turkey, salami, chicken, egg salad, hot dogs, cheese and crackers, bagels and cream cheese, cheese sandwich.
Popular "main-course" alternatives: Pizza (even cold, and including muffin pizza), hot soup, ravioli, Spagettios or leftover dinner pasta, fried or barbecued chicken (especially legs), salad.
Also mentioned: Chinese food, yogurt, turkey or chicken pot pie, steak.
Popular snack items: Doritos way ahead, potato chips trailing far behind.
Also mentioned: Potato sticks, popcorn, Cheetos, salted and shelled peanuts, raisins.
Fruit: Apples the clear winner, but not all pass muster. Frequent qualifiers: "cold," "crisp," "plump," "juicy," "red," "without bruises," "Granny Smith."
Oranges in second place, often rejected as "messy." Qualifiers: "peeled," "unpeeled," "whole," "halved," "quartered," "sliced," "sectioned," and "don't forget the napkin."
Also mentioned: plums, strawberries, cherries, pears, pineapple, peaches, grapes, and tangerines, Few children expressed a desire for bananas, though many children get them. Several objected to canned fruit as having "a funny taste."
Desserts: Cookies (especially chocolate chip) and candy, followed by cake, chocolate pudding, Granola bars, Jell-O, brownies, cupcakes, donuts, Twinkies, chocolate mousse and chocolate croissants.
Drinks: Soda the popular fantasy choice, but milk a close second, followed closely by chocolate milk and less closely by apple juice.
Also mentioned: Hawaiian Punch, orange juice, hot cocoa, grape juice, fruit punch and lemonade.
Yuck list: Foods mentioned fairly frequently with revulsion: liverwurst, mayonnaise, fat on meat, bell peppers, meat loaf, smushed PBJ and smushed bananas, eggs, pears, etc., chicken sandwiches (they're dry or fall apart), cold soup, warm milk, spoiled orange juice, warm or soft apples, any kind of fish, untoasted whole-wheat bread, canned meat or fruit, cold green beans or peas, tomatoes, celery and cold chicken.
Popular items that also made the most-disliked list: milk, salami, bologna and oranges.
One child skipped everything and went right for peanut-butter-and-sugar sandwiches. Other fantasy menus: "a small submarine sandwich filled with tuna and roast beef, with tomatoes and mustard on an onion roll"; "dried ham and cream-cheese sandwich, a carrot, milk and butterscotch cookies;" "a club sandwich, strawberries dipped in sugar, and cake;" for dessert, "Oreos, plain, or with double stuff."