Although it is rapidly being replaced by boring plain styrofoam or other plasticky rectangular boxes, for many years Chinese restaurants provided a distinctive trapezoidal-shaped paper 'pail' for patrons to take leftover food home.

What were the origins of this iconic object that characterized Chinese restaurants, second only to the fortune cookie?  I stumbled upon the following explanation.  In 1894 Frederick Weeks Wilcox patented containers he created by folding a single sheet of paper to replace more expensive wooden pails for transporting small quantities of oysters.   

Around the middle of the past century when Chinese restaurants became more popular, the oyster pails were repurposed to enable Chinese restaurant customers to enjoy their Chinese food leftovers when they were assumed to be "hungry an hour later" after their meal.