McDonald's Take-Out Containers Used To Look A Lot Different

It's hard to imagine a world where fast food orders aren't packaged in paper, however, that was once a reality at McDonald's. In an act of nostalgia, one Reddit user shared photos of the to-go containers McDonald's used to use — foam boxes designed to hold breakfasts, chicken nuggets, Big Macs, and more. Some commenters on the post could remember, or at least picture, the way things once were, saying they can "hear," "smell," and "taste" the containers. Others claimed that food even tasted better when it was served in one of these foam boxes.

The container, which was made of polystyrene, was introduced to McDonald's stores in 1975, and subsequently removed in the early 1990s. Each box was individually labeled to indicate what item was inside. For example, one version of the Big Mac box was pink with a classic logo. The Reddit thread, however, showcased a brown box to hold the famed sandwich. Either way, the "Big Mac" inscription ensured employees couldn't confuse it for another meal.

These boxes were likely quite sturdy, and seemed to be beloved by those who remember them. For better or worse, though, their inclusion eventually came to an end.

The packaging wasn't environmentally friendly

Customers may have liked the boxes, but unfortunately, the environment did not. In 1990, McDonald's pledged to rid all its stores of polystyrene foam boxes by the end of the year. Because the company claimed the boxes were better at retaining heat, it attempted to simply amp up recycling. After realizing the problem the boxes caused — including their large presence in landfills — McDonald's decided the best course of action was to remove them completely.

Over time, the popular burger joint did work to further lessen its environmental impact. In 2021, McDonald's Corporate reported that 82.7% of its primary packaging materials have been recycled or otherwise certified. Even more impressive, 96.8% of its primary fiber packaging meets the same standards. As of 2023, the chain is working on reducing the waste that stems from its Happy Meal packaging.

As for the Big Mac, it's no longer served in a pink or brown box, but rather a container with a wood exterior and a carton board interior.