By day, Dave Blumenthal is a (mostly) normal guy, working in finance and doing his best to survive the trials and tribulations of parenthood. By night, Dave is a cartoon artist. Drawing under the moniker ‘Sandwich Bag Dad’, Dave combines his love of art with his passion for wordplay and dad jokes.
The Sandwich Bag Dad story began in 2012. Dave’s eldest daughter Sharni had started school just weeks after the birth of her baby sister. To make Sharni feel special and loved, Dave’s wife started carving little love hearts and other shapes into Sharni’s school sandwiches.
After a few days, Dave took over the sandwich-carving duties, and from there things quickly escalated. The daily sandwich cut-outs became more and more intricate, and Dave was soon fielding ‘carving’ requests from Sharni’s friends and teachers.
One day, as Dave was about to slice up a new sandwich masterpiece, he spied a marker pen on the kitchen benchtop and was struck by an idea. Instead of cutting shapes into the actual bread, why not draw his designs onto the actual sandwich bag itself? And the rest, as they say, is Sandwich Bag history.
From that point on, drawing on Sharni’s lunch bags became a daily ritual. Over the next few years, Dave’s artwork steadily gained popularity, not only amongst Sharni’s classmates, but in the school staffroom as well.
The bag drawings even became a regular discussion topic at parent-teacher interviews: “Sharni is doing great, but can we talk more about your sandwich bag drawings?” In 2016, after much prodding from Sharni’s teachers, Dave finally joined the world of social media. He established his ‘Sandwich Bag Dad’ identity on Instagram and Facebook and began to share his work online.
Over the ensuing four years, Dave’s daily lunch bag workload doubled and then tripled as Sharni’s younger sisters, Tia and Milly, started school and began to demand their own customised sandwich bag art. All the while, Dave continued to post his designs to social media, gradually building a growing band of loyal followers.
In 2019, Sharni convinced Dave to go green (or ‘brown’, to be precise) by swapping plastic sandwich bags for more environmentally friendly paper ones. “I was really happy to make the switch,” Dave chuckles. “Not only was I doing my bit for the planet, but this was clearly a sign from my daughters that it was perfectly okay to recycle my dad jokes!”
In 2020, Dave’s quirky ritual went global. His drawings were featured in numerous newspapers, global entertainment websites and radio talk shows. His lunch bags even had their very own exhibition at Australia’s National Cartoon Gallery.
To this day, Dave creates daily lunch bag drawings for all three of his daughters. He usually draws them at night, with each taking around 10 to 30 minutes to complete, depending on their complexity. Once finished, Dave duly photographs his work for social media posterity and then places the bags in a pile. The next morning, the Sandwich Bag Kids raid the stockpile to select their bags, toss their sandwiches inside and head off to school.
While very occasionally one of Dave’s lunch bags will be hung up on the classroom wall, the vast majority end up crumpled and tossed in the recycling bin.
Dave doesn’t mind, though. He knows the bags have served their purpose – bringing a smile, an eye roll… and a sandwich to school lunchtime.