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Vintage Tupperware

Vintage Tupperware by Thomas Hawk via flickr 2
Vintage Tupperware by Thomas Hawk via flickr
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Tupperware, the world-famous plastic containers that revolutionized the daily life of the housewife, have lost none of their glory. On the contrary, far from becoming an obsolete object, vintage Tupperware is still popular today! This is probably due in part to the Millenials’ infatuation with all things vintage. Some e-commerce platforms and marketplaces dedicated to antiques and vintage even offer them in their category dedicated to tableware, alongside silverware and Pyrex cookware (another product that has also fallen victim to its success – but that’s another story).

So let’s find out how this invention was born, and where to find vintage Tupperware today, and at what price.

A revolutionary little box

Who is not familiar with Tupperware, those plastic containers for multiple uses? If this brand’s products are in every kitchen today, we often ignore the fact that they bear the name of their inventor, the American Earl Silas Tupper. These food containers for storing, heating, and cooking food have been so popular with housewives around the world that their brand name has even become a household name for airtight plastic boxes.

The invention of Tupperware

Tupperware was invented by the ingenious American engineer and chemist Earl Tupper. It is within the Du Pont de Nemours company that Earl Tupper started to work on polyethylene (a cheap thermoplastic resin which is today the most widespread form of plastic in the world). Using this new material, he developed small, airtight plastic bowls designed to “make women’s work easier”. He created the Tupper Plastics Company in 1939 in Orlando, Florida and began marketing his products in 1946.

It was also in 1946 that Earl Tupper developed the brand’s flagship product: “The Wonder Bowl”. It is a hermetically sealed container with a malleable lid used to preserve food. At the time, the refrigerator had just entered American homes. However, the public’s response was very mixed and sales of the first Tupperware products did not take off.

The success of Tupperware meetings

Tupperware took off in the late 1940s with a new home demonstration and sales system: the “Tupperware party”.

In 1948, Brownie Wise, a door-to-door saleswoman, convinced Earl Tupper to change the distribution method and launch the famous “Tupperware home parties”. From then on, saleswomen came to promote the advantages of Mr. Tupper’s little plastic boxes to the housewife and her friends and the success was overwhelming!

Three years later, this system worked so well that the brand decided to withdraw its products from stores to concentrate on this sole sales method.
In order to build customer loyalty and expand its customer base, the brand also invented a reward system: the “hostesses” who hosted a demonstration received gifts based on the number of sales made by the brand’s presenter.
By 1958, Earl Tupper’s empire was valued at $16 million.

Tupperware today

For more than 60 years, Tupperware has been an enduring success. Not only do the airtight boxes still appear in the refrigerator and cupboards of every household, but they can now be used for heating, microwaving, and serving. These ingenious containers have been updated with flashy colors, shapes and uses that are becoming more and more common: ice cube trays, cake pans, baking dishes…

In 2003, the Tupperware Corporation sold its products in more than 100 countries and achieved a turnover of 1.1 billion dollars.

A parallel market in high demand: Vintage Tupperware

Alongside the market for modern Tupperware products, a second market has developed in recent years: vintage Tupperware. Some Millennials’ love of vintage decorating is not limited to the living room, bedroom or garden. The kitchen is also entitled to its little retro touch. And what better way to add a touch of pastel or flashy color than with vintage Tupperware from the 50s and 80s?

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?

Available for as little as a few dollars, some of the rarer vintage Tupperware sets can quickly reach several hundred dollars. On Etsy, for example, the following sets are trading between US$150 and US$200:

You get it: vintage Tupperware is really hot right now, and it shows in their price, which may seem excessive at first. But when you love something, you don’t count the cost. And whether it’s vintage Tupperware containers or Baseball collector cards, it makes no difference.

Conclusion

A practical object completely integrated into everyday life for over 70 years, Tupperware is a true institution in our society and a household name. And its status as a timeless icon is reflected in the price at which some of the most sought-after items are traded. Whether you’re a Tupperware fan or not, it’s a safe bet that this accessory will remain a sought-after item for many years to come.

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