Sometimes a brand comes along which defines an era and is something of a social phenomenon too – today it might be Apple but in the 1960s it was Tupperware. These plastic containers with their patented ‘burping seal’ impacted both food storage and, perhaps more importantly, empowered women at home to run their own business with the famous Tupperware Party system.
Tupperware was the eponymous product developed by American, Earl Silas Tupper in 1946. It was a good product but it was a woman, Brownie Wise, who made it an international phenomenon by developing the party selling system which is so associated with the famous plastic containers.
The “Party” model allowed women to use all the skills and social norms of being a 50s housewife to make money. The Tupperware hostess planned a party, invited their friends and friends of friends and generally had fun. There was even a strict dress code which required the hostess to wear skirts, stockings and white gloves – sounds a bit surreal to us but this element was all part of the excitement generated by Tupperware.
The Tupperware phenomenon reached Britain in 1960 when the first party was held by a lady called Mila Pond in Weybridge.
Like Brownie Wise, she was a brilliant saleswoman and used ‘the carrot calling’ technique to get housewives hooked. The idea was brilliantly simple – representatives would call door to door and ask the housewife to test the product for themselves with a very simple experiment using carrots. Place some grated carrot in their usual container and some in a Tupperware tub, refrigerate and see which one lasts longer. The result? – well, you can guess. The company developed a plethora of different products in different coloured plastic driven by a collecting mania. There are many copies today as the patent has run out but a genuine vintage piece of Tupperware is more than just a cheap bit of plastic tat – it is very much a period feature.