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20th Century Kitchen Trends: Tupperware Plastic Storage

20th Century Kitchen Trends: Tupperware Plastic Storage


Tupperware was invented in 1946 by Earl Silas Tupper and became available to the public in 1948. Tupper was a chemist by trade and according to the National Museum of American History, Earl Tupper's invention was... innovation; he purified a waste product of the oil refining process into flexible, translucent plastic containers that were suitable for food storage.

Tupper's new food storage bowls were available for purchase at many national chains during the late forties. Sales were slow and the product didn't take off as expected.

There was one major problem with Tupper's creation: no one knew what to do with it. Tupper found that sells of his product were much higher where demonstrations were available.  

Image: 1960s Tupperware Ad (Pinterest)

1960s Tupperware Ad

Tupperware Party

Brownie Wise is credited for the party idea. As a former sales rep for Stanley Home Products, Wise knew she had to use a creative marketing plan to succeed at selling Tupperware. The Tupperware Party came out of her determination to succeed and excel she did.

Image: Brownie Wise (source)

Brownie Wise

By 1951 Tupper was so impressed by her that he made her Vice President of marketing. A grand achievement for a "housewife" in the 1950s! The promotion of Wise meant that Tupperware products were pulled from store shelves and made available exclusively through direct, in home sales.

Image Source

Tupperware Party Vintage Advertisement

Tupperware Parties were successful for numerous reasons but the most important are:

  • Post-WWII Americans emigrated to the suburbs. Parties offered a great opportunity for the host to get to know her new neighbors
  • Income and independence for American housewives. After the war and with the return of men to the workforce, women were encouraged to "go back to the kitchen". Many had joined the work force in support of the war. It was hard to let go of their newly found independence and selling Tupperware filled the void. The added bonus was the product being sold fit right in to the realm of women: the kitchen. 

Brownie Wise held the VP position for 7 years until 1958 when she was fired by Tupper. Many believe she was fired because Tupper was planning to sell the company and feared being able to do so with a female in an executive position. Now, that's the 1950s we are much more familiar with!

The success of Tupperware is largely attributed to the way it was sold via direct sales. Home parties where a hostess represented the Tupperware brand gave buyers the opportunity to interact with the brand and hear personal testomonies about brand quality.

We have all either heard of or been to a Tupperware Party. I clearly remember the first I attended in 1996. The idea was novel and revolutionary as it afforded housewives the ability to generate income without ever having to leave the home. Direct sales took off during the 1950s as the Jubilee party was created to reward top-selling party hostesses.

It's important to note that direct, in home sales was not a novel idea in the 1950s nor was it the brain child of Brownie Wise. The model for selling in this manner had been around since the 1890s.

Watch a 1960s Tupperware commercial


Image: 1960s Tupperware (source)

1960s Tupperware Wonderlier bowls

Image: Vintage Tupperware Ad (Pinterest)

Vintage Tupperware Ad

*Featured Image from Pinterest

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  • Jennifer Benson
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