History of Chinese Take-out Boxes. Benefits of Using Take-Out Boxes for Restaurants

History of Chinese Take-out Boxes. Benefits of Using Take-Out Boxes for Restaurants

The Chinese take-out boxes, a familiar to go box type at many restaurants, has a more interesting story than you might think! These boxes are not just for carrying your favorite fried rice. They're practical, can be used for many things, and even have a bit of cultural history. In this article, we'll explore the surprising past of these boxes, the many ways they can be used, and where to find them in bulk if you're in Canada.

Chinese take-out Boxes Overview

What are Chinese takeout Boxes Called?

Chinese take-out boxes are also known as oyster pail (also known as a paper pail, Chinese food box or Chinese takeout container).

History of Chinese take-out Boxes

Thier history is a fascinating tale of unexpected origins and perfect adaptation:

  • While the precise date and inventor remain somewhat shrouded in mystery, the box likely emerged in the late 19th or early 20th century within the United States. Surprisingly, its initial purpose wasn't for transporting delectable Chinese dishes, but rather for a more aquatic delicacy – oysters. These early iterations, aptly named "oyster pails," featured a sturdy wire handle for carrying the shellfish.
  • However, the box's affordability, portability, and ability to hold various foods without leakage made it a perfect fit for the burgeoning American-Chinese takeout industry in the mid-20th century. This fortuitous adaptation solidified its association with Chinese cuisine, making it an iconic symbol of the cultural exchange between the two countries.
  • Furthermore, the design of the box underwent a transformation in the 1970s. Graphic designers adorned the previously plain white containers with elements like pagodas and "thank you" messages in a font resembling Chinese calligraphy. This visual evolution further cemented the box's link to Chinese food in the public consciousness.

Design Features of Chinese Take-Out Boxes

The iconic Chinese takeout box boasts a surprisingly intricate design, crafted for both functionality and convenience. Here's a breakdown of its key features:

  • Folded Paperboard Construction: These boxes are typically crafted from folded paperboard, a lightweight and cost-effective material. This allows for mass production and affordability, making them a suitable choice for takeout packaging.
  • Interlocking Flaps: The flaps of the box are designed to interlock securely, eliminating the need for glue or tape. This ensures safe and leak-proof transportation of food, even for greasy or saucy dishes.
  • Wire Handle: Many Chinese takeout boxes come equipped with a sturdy wire handle. This handle facilitates easy carrying, enhancing the overall convenience of the takeout experience.
  • Material Variations: While traditionally made from paperboard, some variations utilize recycled paper or paperboard with a wax or plastic coating. These coatings enhance moisture resistance and further prevent leaks.
  • Size Variety: Chinese takeout boxes come in a range of sizes, from pint-sized containers suitable for individual servings to larger, half-gallon boxes ideal for family meals. This versatility caters to diverse portion requirements.
  • Branding Potential: The plain white or brown surface of the box often presents an opportunity for branding. Restaurants can customize the design with logos, contact information, or even unique artwork, enhancing brand recognition and marketing efforts.

These well-considered design features have contributed significantly to the widespread adoption and enduring popularity of the Chinese takeout box. Its functionality, portability, and adaptability make it a practical and efficient solution for food packaging.

Chinese Take-out Boxes Sizes

They come in a versatile array of sizes, ensuring they can accommodate various portion requirements:

  • Pint-Sized (16oz): These small containers are ideal for individual servings of appetizers, side dishes, or small meals.
  • Quart (32oz): This mid-sized option is suitable for larger individual portions or sharing smaller dishes with a few people.
  • Half-Gallon (64oz): These large boxes are perfect for family meals or catering orders, holding a significant amount of food.

This range of sizes allows restaurants and consumers to choose the most appropriate container for their needs, minimizing waste and ensuring sufficient food capacity.

Benefits of Using Take-Out Boxes for Restaurants

Chinese take-out boxes offer a multitude of advantages for restaurants, making them a valuable asset in the foodservice industry:

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Compared to reusable containers, take-out boxes are significantly more affordable. This cost-efficiency translates to better margins and financial viability, especially for restaurants with high takeout volume.
  • Convenience: These boxes are readily available in various sizes, eliminating the need for extensive preparation or washing reusable containers. This convenience streamlines operations and saves valuable time for restaurant staff.
  • Branding Potential: Restaurants can personalize take-out boxes with their logos, contact information, or even unique designs. This branding opportunity enhances brand recognition and strengthens customer recall, potentially leading to repeat business.
  • Portion Control: The diverse range of box sizes allows restaurants to effectively manage portion sizes and cater to different order requirements, minimizing food waste and maximizing customer satisfaction.
  • Leak Prevention: Quality take-out boxes with good coatings help prevent leaks, especially crucial for greasy or saucy dishes. This ensures food arrives at its destination in pristine condition, preserving the dining experience.
  • Stackable Design: The stackable nature of these boxes optimizes storage space, allowing for efficient organization and inventory management within the restaurant. This space-saving feature contributes to overall operational efficiency.

Applications of Chinese Take-Out Boxes

Beyond their traditional use, Chinese takeout boxes offer a surprising range of applications:

  • Their portability and leak-proof design make them ideal for packaging a wide variety of food items. From sandwiches and salads to pasta dishes and even snacks like popcorn, chips, and nuts, these boxes can handle a diverse culinary landscape. This versatility makes them a practical choice for restaurants, cafes, and even individuals looking for convenient food storage solutions.
  • The sturdy construction of these boxes makes them ideal for repurposing as storage containers. Leftovers find a safe haven, small items like craft supplies or office supplies gain a tidy home, and with a little creativity, they can even be transformed into unique and inexpensive gift boxes.
  • These boxes provide a blank canvas for various craft projects. Paint them, decorate them, or use them as planters for small succulents or other houseplants. With some modifications, they can even be turned into simple bird feeders, attracting feathered friends to your windowsill.
  • Their inherent portability makes them perfect for various purposes beyond food storage. Repurpose them as lunchboxes for school or work, use them as seedling trays for starting your own garden, or even transform them into handy holders for utensils and napkins during picnics.

With many applications like the above, Chinese take-out boxes have become an effective to go box for many restaurants. So where can you buy Chinese take-out box? Here are some of our suggestions.

Where to Buy Chinese Take-Out Boxes in Bulk?

For Canadian businesses seeking Chinese takeout boxes in bulk, several reliable options exist, including:

  • Wholesale restaurant suppliers: Many companies specialize in supplying restaurants with various products, including takeout boxes in bulk. Look for online stores or physical locations in your area.
  • Packaging Suppliers: Packaging Companies: Businesses dedicated to packaging solutions often have a wide range of takeout boxes, including Chinese styles, for example Kimecopak.ca. Kimcopak is a reliable packaging supplier for North American market. We have a wide range of products including to go box, tableware, drink packaging,…


In conclusion, Chinese take-out boxes offer a practical, versatile, and cost-effective solution for businesses seeking takeout packaging options. Their diverse applications extend far beyond their initial purpose, making them valuable tools for food storage, organization, and even creative projects. By understanding the various suppliers available within Canada and considering factors like customization, price, and eco-friendly options, businesses can find the ideal bulk purchase solution to meet their specific needs.

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