Vintage Tupperware

Vintage Tupperware by Thomas Hawk via flickr 2
Vintage Tupperware by Thomas Hawk via flickr

In the vibrant world of vintage collectibles, an unsung hero continues to shine – Tupperware, the quintessential plastic container that changed the dynamics of domestic life forever, continues to resonate. Defying the cruel hands of time, these handy boxes retain their charm and utility, finding allies in millennials’ enduring love of all things classic and nostalgic.

Numerous e-commerce platforms and marketplaces dedicated to antiques and vintage items have embraced Tupperware, featuring these beloved containers alongside cherished silverware and trusty Pyrex cookware (another product that has also fallen victim to its success – but that’s another story). But to truly appreciate Tupperware’s relevance today, let’s delve into the brand’s compelling origins, explore the modern market for vintage pieces and demystify their current pricing.

Unpacking the Tupperware phenomenon

Perhaps no kitchen has escaped the indispensable allure of Tupperware, the multi-purpose plastic containers that we have come to rely on. Behind this ubiquity lies the intriguing fact that the brand owes its name to its innovative creator, Earl Silas Tupper, the American who pioneered these kitchen gadgets.

Tupper’s eponymous products have become synonymous with airtight plastic boxes – a testament to their popularity with homemakers around the world.

The birth of Tupperware: The genius of Earl Tupper

Tupperware’s journey began with the American engineer and chemist Earl Tupper. While working for Du Pont de Nemours, Tupper explored the potential of polyethylene – an affordable thermoplastic resin that is now the world’s most widely used plastic. Using this material, he invented small, airtight plastic bowls to make women’s daily chores easier.

In 1939, he founded the Tupper Plastics Company in Orlando, Florida, and began marketing his products in 1946.

That same year, Tupper introduced the brand’s flagship product, The Wonder Bowl, a hermetically sealed container with a flexible lid for preserving food. This invention coincided with the arrival of the refrigerator in American homes, but the initial public response was lukewarm, hindering the product’s breakthrough.

The rise and triumph of the Tupperware party

Tupperware’s fortunes changed dramatically in the late 1940s with a novel home demonstration and sales method christened the ‘Tupperware Party’.

In 1948, Brownie Wise, a door-to-door saleswoman, persuaded Tupper to change its sales strategy, sparking the advent of these iconic home parties. Saleswomen would demonstrate the virtues of Tupperware to a captive audience of housewives, resulting in a meteoric rise in popularity.

In fact, the method proved so effective that in 1951 the company withdrew its products from retail outlets to concentrate solely on this route. The brand further encouraged customer loyalty by introducing a reward system for ‘hostesses’ who hosted demonstrations, offering gifts based on sales.

By 1958, the Tupperware empire was worth $16 million.

Tupperware: An indelible legacy

Over six decades, Tupperware has managed to maintain its market presence and relevance. Beyond simple food storage, modern Tupperware aids in heating, microwaving and serving food, and comes in an array of vibrant colours and shapes. The product line has expanded to include ice cube trays, cake pans, baking dishes and more.

By 2003, the Tupperware Corporation was operating in more than 100 countries, with sales of $1.1 billion.

A booming parallel market: Vintage Tupperware

Riding the wave of millennial vintage mania, a burgeoning secondary market has emerged. E-commerce giants such as eBay and Etsy have seen vintage Tupperware fly off their virtual shelves, catering to those seeking a retro touch for their kitchens or a tangible link to their past.

Where to find vintage Tupperwares?

Available in the tableware section of most major e-commerce sites and marketplaces dedicated to antiques and vintage such as eBay or Etsy for example, vintage Tupperware has become a must-have for vintage lovers. For others, these small, colorful used containers remind them of their childhood. And if you have to use plastic containers, why not buy vintage Tupperware that not everyone will have?

How much are vintage Tupperwares worth?

Depending on their rarity, pieces of vintage Tupperware can cost anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred. Etsy, for example, has a number of vintage sets priced between $150 and $200, including a 1970s Orange Vintage Tupperware Set Of 9 and a Retro Yellow Tupperware Canisters Set.

You get it: vintage Tupperware is really hot right now. And while the prices may seem steep, it’s important to note that the value of any collectible – be it Tupperware or baseball cards – is ultimately determined by the buyer’s passion and willingness to pay.

Wrapping up

For over 70 years, Tupperware has been a pillar of society and a symbol of innovation. Its iconic status is reflected in the hefty price tags of its most coveted pieces. Whatever your personal allegiance to the brand, it’s clear that Tupperware, especially its vintage versions, will continue to command attention for the foreseeable future.