Plastic Soul

Most people think of Tupperware as a slippery, greasy vessel that is used for grape juice or leftover chili. I think it is a miraculous and wonderful achievement of civilized man. It doesn’t break when you drop it in the sink. It has beautiful colors. The shape is graceful and useful. It makes a burping sound if you close the lid properly. Granted, Tupperware did take a tragic turn in the 1990s and fell into the thinking that everyone loved maroon, almond, and teal. Now they seem to be returning to their roots and making classic forms again.

Polyethylene was a new plastic developed for wartime use. Earl Tupper used this to make a range of household materials. Originally, he sold the product in hardware stores, but nobody understood it. Working with Brownie Wise, he switched the sales to Tupperware parties. This filled a need for a population of stay at home mothers loving in the suburbs. They were isolated in new towns that had been potato farms; Tupperware parties brought them together and were hugely successful. By 1958, Earl Tupper sold the company for $16,000,000.00. That was a lot of money in 1958.

We can only hope that Tupperware will do the right thing, and reject the “hip” colors of today, and return to the classic forms, pastels, and earth tones. Face it, if you could buy the original pastel Wonderlier line, you would.