FRESNO, Calif.-- It seems like everything is made in China these days, but there's one thing that's made in the USA that may surprise you: the iconic Chinese take-out box.
Continue Reading Below
The box is one for the most recognizable take-out boxes in the country. It's the traditional white box with the familiar red text and the image of the pagoda that has dominated America's Chinese restaurants for decades.
The company that makes this famous product is Fold-Pak. Fold-Pak has three manufacturing facilities across the country with their west coast operations in Fresno, in Central California.
"Honestly, I would have never guessed that these were made locally, I actually thought they would be made in China," said Mike Schapansky who loves getting his Chinese food out of these famous boxes.
This product seems like it would be ideally suited to be made in China, but Fold-Pak has the market cornered and is the No. 1 maker of Chinese take out boxes the United States. It has 60%-70% of the market share of the containers.
Ironically, restaurants in China don't use the Chinese take-out boxes that we associate with Chinese food here in America. Instead, they use other type of carry out containers.
It is cheaper to manufacture similar types of Chinese take out boxes in China. It can cost between a penny to 8 cents per 16oz. box on an order of 1,000 pieces if you order similar types of take out boxes from China, while buying 1,000 pieces from Fold-Pak can cost around 14 cents per 16 oz. box.
But Fold-Pak prides itself on having the best-made container -- and it's made right here in America.
The popular box has a wirehandle for easy carrying, good closure, a special lining to keep food from leaking, and good heat retention.
"As far as I've remembered they've always been here," said Albert Young owner of Visalia Tea Garden a Chinese restaurant in central California.
Like thousands of Chinese restaurants around the country, Young uses these boxes because his customers like it.
"Customers like it because you get to eat out of the box. Big family meal that you just pack it up and take home and feed the families," said Young.
The original box was invented in the 1700s and has evolved over the centuries into Chinese food containers and is now predominately used in the Chinese food industry in North America.