The Origin of the Chinese Takeout Container

Chinese takeout has a long history in the US, and the iconic Chinese takeout container is pretty much synonymous with it. 🥡🥡🥡

Believe it or not, that container is entirely American, not something you’ll likely ever see people in mainland China use.  Indeed, the ‘paper pail’ was patented back in the late 1800s for carrying oysters, which were a very popular snack along the east coast. Frederick Weeks Wilcox was the inventor, who went on to improve the design in 1894.

The single piece of waxed paper was perfect for holding the otherwise messy food, and eventually became a natural fit for Chinese food, which carried well, and could be unfolded to make a flat plate.

Well over a century later, the takeout container is ubiquitous, instantly recognizable for what it holds. What does that simple white carton symbolize for you?

Read more on The Dieline:

“As universally recognized as the pizza box, the takeout container is an essential staple of American dining culture, popping up in movies and television, with its legacy further sealed now that it’s an official emoji, adding it to our global digital language.”

– The Dieline