Last week in a Charity Shop in Christchurch, I succumbed to buying something from the £1 bargain bucket. An orange box - specifically a round piece of Tupperware, with a drainer insert. I have two smaller boxes of this type [named plate-o-bowls in the arcane nomenclature of the manufacturers] which I use a lot, and I decided this one might also prove useful. I felt very smug later on in the day, in a local "Vintage Emporium" to see the identical item [but rather scratched, whereas mine is pristine, and looks unused] for £9. To purchase the set on eBay would be about £20.
Earl Silas Tupper, born in 1907 was a very inventive guy. He worked for Dupont, the plastics company, and they tasked him with finding good uses for their products.
He came up with a fish-powered boat, a non-drip ice cream cone, a creosote gun to deal with moth eggs, flour sifters, tampon cases, knitting needles...and most famously, boxes for keeping your food fresh.
Although he started the food storage business in 1938, nobody seemed to want to buy the stuff in the shops. It wasn't until post WW2, in 1948 when a woman called Brownie Wise suggested the idea of selling through parties held in homes that Tupperware really took off. You couldn't make these names up! she sounds like someone from the Girl Guide Movement.
Today, every 1.5 seconds, a Tupperware party begins somewhere in the world. That's a terrifying thought. It appears that Frenchwomen are crazy about them. They enjoy half a million parties a year - zut alors!!
Back to the boxes...
Forget the militant feminists, out there breaking the glass ceiling - these products are for Her Majesty, Mrs Homemaker, training up her daughter, in matching coronet, dress and apron, to chain herself to the kitchen sink!
As I said, the different boxes have intriguing names. The first lidded pastel bowls were called Wonderliers, and there were large Servaliers too
When we got married in 1979, we were given a set of 4 Square Rounds - which were ...square boxes with rounded corners[so that the lids fitted easily and you could 'burp' out the excess air]
At the end of the 70s the pastel colours went out of favour, and in came the "Harvest" range - orange, avocado, yellow, and brown. The 80s saw the introduction of Almond [a nondescript beige] and in the 90s grey, black and red. "Crystal white" has been a popular colour for a long time - and today's catalogue now includes blue shades - navy, saxe blue, and Tiffany blue. They still have crazy names [mix-n-stor, vent-n-serve, and thatsa-bowl]
Tupperware has become the generic term for food storage boxes - people use it in the same way we speak of vaccuum cleaners being Hoovers. However, I suspect that Lock&Lock and Dyson are also beginning to gain ground as general names.
My poor deprived daughters had to grow up without the educational benefits of the Tupperware shape-o-toy. This ball/rattle has 10 apertures into which they can insert the shapes. Each shape has a numeral on one side and the corresponding number of dots on the other. You can teach your toddler useful words like trapezium, sector and oval...
But I must not mock too much - I really do like my orange boxes - they are especially good for salads, and I use them outside when we have bbqs because the lids keep the insects out.
Have you ever been to a Tupperware party?
Did you buy anything?
Were you perhaps an Agent, like my good friend Gwen back in Kirby Muxloe?