Monday, May 10, 2010

PENNY: post 4: Tupperware

The 1940's saw the kitchen become a family gathering place rather than a work place, with families eating and entertaining in the kitchen, interior design and decoration became more important. Kitchenware became more than simply functional with colours and materials reflecting the increasing consumer culture.

While working as a chemist at DuPont in the 1930s, Earl Silas Tupper (1907-1983) discovered the almost indestructible, refined polyethylene plastic "Poly-T: Material of ther Fututre"; a material similar to what was previously used in the industrial and aviation industry. He established Tupper Plastics Company in 1939 and designed his first Tupperware prototype in 1942. Although there were other companies producing similar plastics and plastic products, there was no direct competition.
An inventor and chemist, Tupper believed that industrial innovation could improve everyday life.
Typically, Tupperware was created in pastel colours with standard 1950's colours being turquoise, soft yellow, pink and copper. Original Tupperware designs were considered a revisitation of the Bauhaus movement and were embraced by designers and artists.

The cheapness of the plastic made it a perfect material during and after the war when money and resources were still tight, particularly for the lower middle classes. It was also colourful, light and fun where all previous homewares were heavy and dark.

Initially, Tupper tried to sell his products through stores, however after several failed attempts to break into the market a divorced wife, Brownie Wise, from the suburbs suggested to Tupper that his products would sell better through the party style or "patio party"selling. Tupperware and its selling style fit perfectly with the growing suburban culture of America.

In 1951 Wise was made the company's vice president. By 1954 she became the first woman ever to appear on the cover of "Business Week". Wise and Tupperware brought the female edge to retail and showed women that they could have a career and raise a family.

Although initially Tupperware reinforced the stereotype of women as homemakers, it also gave many women the ability to have their own income and have a career in an era that did not accept women in the work force.
Tupperware heralded the Golden Age of Plastics and the Golden Age of the 'Suburban Housewife'.

The style; now kitch, has created is a major resurgence in Tupperware party selling. One of the larger modern sub culture groups of Tupperware lovers is the Gay scene, with many 1950's suburban themed parties.

Kay's other occupation is a Tupperware party girl.

"Muerte por Tupperware"
A modern take on the 'consumerism is killing us' theme


  1. Hey Penny, I really enjoyed reading this post. I love that his name was Tupper... i'd never thought of that before and I really like the images that you chose. Especially the last one : )

  2. informative, enjoyable and at times humourous

  3. I wanna go to those gals party!

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