Inherited from my mother’s kitchen, the plastic box sits square and proud. No longer pristine, age and use have reduced its former glory to a decided off-white. But the lid still seals it well and airtight – my Tupperware container. Before the days of click lid lunch boxes and cup cake carriers from Poundland, what we had was Tupperware.
Tupperware had been invented in 1946 by an American, Earl Silas Tupper . He developed plastic food containers with a special seal which kept them airtight. It was this special seal which made Tupperware so different from its competitors.
Tupperware was also the pioneer of a direct marketing strategy which became famous. This was the Tupperware party. Many women had worked outside of the home during the Second World War. With the return of their menfolk they were back in the home with no income of their own. Hosting a Tupperware party to entertain other housewives whilst selling them Tupperware products allowed women in the post-war years to work and enjoy an income but within their own homes.
It took until 1960 for Tupperware to arrive in England when a Mila Pond hosted a Tupperware party in Weybridge, Surrey. At that time, ladies went out to social events such as this dressed very formally; a dress and jacket or a suit, with matching shoes and handbag, stockings (the precursor to tights) and very often a hat and gloves to complete the outfit.
Today in many countries, Tupperware products come with a lifetime guarantee and even here in the UK the guarantee is 10 years. So, in years to the future when archaeologists dig into the layers of the 21st century, my Tupperware box, itself a relic of the 20th century, won’t be alone. And the historians will mutter amongst themselves and be full of admiration at just how advanced we ancient peoples were…