Skip to main content


Showing posts from September, 2021

The Chinese Takeout Box is As American As Baseball and Apple Pie

It may be hard to believe, but for a brief moment in history, oysters were one of the most popular foods along the Eastern US coast, especially in New York City. Cheaper than poultry, the bivalve saltwater mollusk was affordable for the working class, thanks to advances in dredge harvesting. As plentiful and inexpensive as oysters were, getting to the fleshy bits requires a bit of skill. What's more, once shucked, they don’t stay fresh for very long, a more pressing concern before widespread refrigeration. The need for an inexpensive, watertight package that can safely carry oysters home inspired the eventual invention of the “oyster pail,” an early version of which was  patented  in 1890, then significantly improved upon in 1894 by Frederick Weeks Wilcox. The new version could be formed from a single piece of paper or card stock so that no moisture gets trapped, leading to unwanted leakage. Its folded design also allows steam to escape. Ever handy, the top can be folded and locked