There are no fortune cookies or takeaway boxes in China....

I have been in China for several years, and I have yet to see a single fortune cookie or one of those white takeaway boxes with the wire handle.

I try to explain to my Chinese friends that many of the things that they think about Western people is not true, so as an example of cultural misunderstandings I explain to them that Westerners associate fortune cookies with Chinese food.
I was able to find the history of why we mistakenly associate Chinese food and fortune cookies on Wiki, but I do not know how or why those boxes came to be associated with Chinese food.

Does anyone know ?

It’s because the most common depiction of Chinese food in the west is when it appears in movies or TV in the form of American takeaway, where (presumably) those things are common.

There is Chinese takeaway in China also, but they never use those white boxes.
Of course, they do not call it "Chinese food, they just call it “food” :stuck_out_tongue:

What I am trying to say is that Chinese people, in China, have never seen or used those types of boxes. I am trying to ask how and why they first came to be associated with Chinese food in the West so I can better explain it to my Chinese friends here in China.

You want to know the origin of the box design? Here you go:

Great, thanks !

I did not think to search for it as an “oyster pail”.

Nor me. For the record, these boxes aren’t very common elsewhere in the west.

I’ve seen them here in Britain, but my impression is that they were being used to deliberately emulate the kind of American takeaway boxes people have seen in the movies. Most Chinese takeaway food here in the UK is sold in foil cartons with cardboard lids or snap-closed plastic boxes.

It’s not ‘the west’, it’s America. In the UK Chinese food comes in foil boxes or faux Tupperware, and I think I’ve only seen a fortune cookie in the UK once. For the rest of your answer, what Mangetout said: movies. And some enterprising Chinese-American businesspeople.

Thanks for the clarification.
I read the below statement on Wiki about fortune cookies, and I incorrectly assumed it applied to Western countries other than America.

“Fortune cookies are often served as a dessert in Chinese restaurants in the United States and some other countries, but are absent in China”

I’ve bought fortune cookies in a Chinese supermaket, but never been given them in a restaurant or takeaway here.

To be fair, the oyster pail box does not seem all that common in America either. The only time I ever see them used is for the rice with the meal. Everything else is those same foil boxes or sytrofoam, or some such. I am not sure why I would even want the little box, drip sauce everywhere. They seem mostly to be a shorthand that hey these people are eating takeout food.

I would say that fortune cookies are quite unknown outside the USA.

True for Sweden as well (although take away food is not that popular here).

A lot of these places still use the food boxes with the wire handles, instead of the newer models with the plastic ones. The wired ones make it impossible to warm the food up in the microwave without having to go dirty another container.

Yeah, I haven’t seen one in ages. Most food here comes in microwaveable recloseable containers.

They came to be associated with Chinese food in the United States, because Chinese restaurants in the United States use them. Apparently there’s some disagreement over whether the first restaurant in the United States to serve the modern fortune cookie was Japanese or Chinese, but it was definitely in San Francisco and quickly spread through the San Francisco Chinese restaurant culture.

I see them all the time and I’ve seen them used for everything but long vegetables like broccoli or dishes with very large chunks of things that wouldn’t fit in the folding box. The aluminum boxes are used as well, for larger dishes or other things that don’t fit well into an oyster box. If an oyster box is used properly, there shouldn’t be any dripping.

The white paper cartons are universal in NYC. Sometimes you get the cheap tupperware too. But by the way, the paper cartons don’t leak, at all, unless somehow they get turned upside down in the delivery bag. They’re clever as heck. Some of them are even made without any metal, to go in the microwave more easily.

Also, if you need cheap gift packaging for candy or other Holiday treats, you can buy them about 10 for $1 at any Chinese take-out.

Same in Ireland. I think the plastic boxes are becoming more common but mostly have the foil with cardboard lid. I’m surprised no-one has ever tried to launch the takeaway boxes here. Hipsters would be all over that.

I’m curious, is a three-in-one common Chinese takeaway fare anywhere outside Ireland?

Chips (ie fries), boiled or fried rice, and curry or other sauce on top, all in a tray.
I reckon there are some restaurants in Dublin that have 3-in-1s as 90% of their business. :slight_smile:

Only on America - in the UK - Scotland we get ours in foil containers

I have never seen fries with Chinese food anywhere in Asia, or in North or South America.

I’ve never seen it quite that way in the United States. French fried potatoes/chips are not generally served with Chinese food.

You can get carryout combinations in which the saucy dish is next to or on top of a pile of rice, but there’s nothing magic about the number “three” and I’ve never heard the term “three-in-one” used here. If you walk up to the Panda Bowl at the mall, it wouldn’t be unheard of for them to offer you a “rice plus two” combo of some kind and depending how much rice they give you or how careful the server is, there very well might be overlap between the rice and other sauces on the plate or in the styrofoam carry-out box. Most often those boxes have three compartments though, so the overlapping isn’t mandatory.