Monday, 17 April 2017

Party Pieces

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?






21 comments:

  1. Ha, ha, I bought one of those shape sorter things for my daughter! Yes, I've been to a Tupperware party and I did buy some items (including that shape sorter, I think). What's more, I even volunteered to host a party, in return! There was a set of 4 canisters that I was eyeing and it was only available as a hostess gift if you had over $400 in sales. I think, between my mother and I, we bought enough stuff for me to qualify for those canisters! I still have at least three of them. And several of those storage containers and a large, covered bowl. The best item I purchased, however, is my pastry mat. I still have it and use it, although it has a few cuts on it and a corner melted when it was kept too close to the stove burner!

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    1. I never had the pastry mat, but always thought they looked useful

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  2. How did I get to my sixth decade without attending a Tupperware party? The mother and daughter poster would have been enough to put me off. I was far too influenced by my Dad to be the little helper my Mum wanted. I am, however, a happy homemaker (and the rest) now, having come to it in my own time.

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    1. That's the best way to get there!

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  3. My dad died recently and we have been clearing out the house. There was so much Tupperware that had it all been in use at the same time would have looked like a promotional set.
    Carolx

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    1. There's a huge market for vintage Tupperware on eBay

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  4. I've only ever been to one back in about 1976........it was awful with silly games and people oohing and aaahing over bits of plastic!
    I believe I've only ever possessed one piece - a flattish bowl divided into 3 with handle to screw in when lid was removed - a pickle dish or something similar. It's long gone.

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    1. The games were always silly, but part of the programme

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  5. Ah you've reminded me of the pastel tupperware of th 70s. Including those fab 'beakers' with a pop up lid for a straw. Seem to recall we had them in pink, peach, lemon and turquoise?!

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    1. Ooh, I don't remember beakers with tops like that. They sound fun

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  6. I went to one a good few years ago. I seem to remember that everything was really expensive. My mum had a huge kind of divided plate with a clip on handle. It was for nuts and nibbles I think. It was very 60s - she used it for years so I suppose you get what you pay for

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    1. I have the divided plate, it still comes out for crudités at church events. But I got it 2nd hand, so never had the clip on handle.

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  7. Here Tupperware parties are a thing of the seventies. Are they really still happening? We had a round orange dish with lid, but not drainer. In fact, my mother might still have it...

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    1. Officially Tupperware Parties stopped in the UK in 2003. But as you can still buy the products by other means, a few enterprising folk, like The Tupperwareman have set up their own party businesses.

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  8. The only one I remember going to must have been in the 70's, and I attended as a child along with my mom. At my aunt's house; I remember the shape toy being one of the features. I have actively sought out Tupperware dealers within the last 10 years, though. Because I like the pie carriers for storing and transporting pies, well of course. They also hold cookies if I make a large batch and store some in the freezer. And I am still using the little round bowls with the pleated lids (in harvest colors) serve n savers, I think they were called. And I think they were given to us as a wedding gift 29 years ago! But I don't remember ever seeing pastel colors.

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    1. I have a small golden yellow serve & saver too. But the lid is quite stiff

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  9. I have owned a lot of vintage Tupperware. I couldn't resist it at carboot sales! I had a clear out of my cupboards when I was raising money to pay for new radiators and sold a lot of it on eBay for much more than I paid. I just kept the items that I use a lot.

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  10. I still have one or two bits floating around! I even went to a Tupperware party when I was staying with my son in Sydney...all similar but with some quite elegant additions which were not the standard Tupperware.

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    1. It does seem as if there are national variations. I wonder if the French boxes have a chic cachet missing from the utilitarian British boxes? You don't mention attending any of those half a million annual parties during your time in France!

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  11. Went to a few back in the 90s. Used to dread them as they could be quite expensive.

    Best piece I ever bought is the pickle container. Has an insert to pull the pickles out of the vinegar.

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  12. My childhood was full of Tupperware! We seemed to have loads of the stuff. My old kitchen at my childhood home had these Hugh kitchen cupboards which were full of the stuff! CBC and I have a few items still and I believe my Mum has a load. I remember the brilliant ice Lilly moulds that we had which my Mum made Squash lollies for us in and my lunch at school was always in a pastel blue or red or avocado Square Round!

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