You know those boxes that Chinese food comes in? Those ubiquitous containers are called oyster pails (you didn’t know that, did you?).
They are called oyster pails because they were originally designed to hold clams. Kidding, they were originally designed to hold oysters.
The origami-like pail was invented in the late 1800s when oysters were mucho popular and much less expensive than they are these days. Although they were everywhere, oysters were not easy to open. So when people bought them, they usually had the oyster monger crack the mollusks open (the better not to severely injure themselves in the shucking process). The opened oysters were put into – you guessed it – oyster pails for the ride home. No word on how the oysters felt about transportation via box.
By the mid-1900s, overfishing and burger joints meant people weren’t eating many oysters. Which left a whole lot of boxes with nothing to do.
Enter Chinese take-out.
And now you know.