While paper containers made to transport meals, beverages, snacks and other life necessities (late-night pizza, anyone?) serve a basic but important function, some product packaging surprises us with hidden “hacks” that take them from commonplace to who-thought-of-that? clever.
Whether built-in or unintentional, these packaging design features make eating a little easier—and they have the potential to impress your dining companions. Here are seven food packaging tricks to know:
Fast food fry boxes have a ketchup flap
The internet lost its mind when a Twitter user pointed out that the top half of many fast-food fry boxes can be folded back, making room for a dollop of ketchup. The humble hack probably wasn’t the company’s intention—but it is certainly handy.
Catching on to this design hack, other chains have designed their food boxes with dipping convenience in mind, making it easier for you to eat on the go.
Aluminum foil boxes keep it secure
When tearing off a new sheet of aluminum foil, keep it perfectly straight. On each side of the box are end locks. They help keep the roll of foil stable when tearing off a new sheet. Just push them in on the sides, and they will secure the roll in the box so each sheet comes out nice and neat.
Juice box “handles” ensure steady sipping
Sure, the single-serving vessels are already meant to be gripped. But a hard squeeze (from tiny, unpracticed fingers, for instance) can send contents flying from a straw like a choreographed water fountain show. Lift the two flaps at the top and ask your kids to hold the box by its “wings.”
Soda is meant to stay in the box
We all know that soda boxes come with perforated handles that make them easier to carry. But did you know that they also come with a perforated end that acts as a dispenser? No need to take out each individual can to store in the fridge. At one end of the box, there is a corner that you can tear off. Doing creates a dispenser serving up one cold soda at a time.
Condiment cups allow bigger dunks
The petite cups that hold ketchup and other sauces are great for dipping a few fries or a single tater tot. Try to submerge anything larger, and it’s a no-go. Fortunately, their packaging design allows containers to expand to accommodate that monster plunge: Tug on the rolled top edges and pull outward.
Chinese food boxes can become platters
The takeout boxes, though iconic, often leave hungry patrons digging for remnants at the bottom—or splattering contents as they dole out shared portions. No longer: Unhook the top clasp, then pull apart the side folds. Voilà, the accordionlike design collapses into a plate.
Pizza boxes can be broken into tableware and a tablescape
There’s no questioning the core utility of a pizza box. But few may realize that the sturdy workhorse can do double duty. Rip off the lid, fold it into quarters and tear at the creases to produce four disposable plates. No table? No problem. Reverse fold the lid to prop up your pizza so the distance between your mouth and the box are that much shorter. Remember pizza boxes can be recycled with the grease and leftover globs of cheese!