The folded takeout box may be a ubiquitous feature of Chinese restaurants in America, but, it turns out, it’s not Chinese at all. In “The Truth About Your Chinese Takeout Box,” Great Big Story explains the strange history of the iconic food container. Like the amphora on the classic Greek-themed coffee cup, the iconic pagoda that has adorned most Chinese takeout boxes since the 1970s was inspired by Chinese artwork, but created by a graphic designer in America.

But while the takeout box illustration originated a few short decades ago, the box itself dates back to the 19th century. Intertwined with historic events like the California gold rush, the second World War, and the rise of suburbia, the story of the Chinese takeout box is surprisingly complex, and quintessentially American. Check it out above.

Banner Image Credit: Great Big Story, YouTube