The History of Tupperware

The history of Tupperware dates back to 1939. Learn who invented Tupperware, who first started to sell Tupperware, and more about the Tupperware company from Stay a Stay at Home Mom.

Who Invented Tupperware

Earl Silas Tupper was the man who invented Tupperware in 1939.

Earl Tupper grew up on a farm at the turn of the century, and was always into tinkering and inventing to help his family farm become more productive. One of his early inventions received a patent.

After leaving the family farm, he had several jobs and even started a tree service business, which eventually went bankrupt. In 1937, Earl Tupper, who invented Tupperware, started to work for DuPont in plastics. He worked there for only one year.

Tupperware Party Games

During this time period, plastics were not widely used as they are today. They were notorious for being greasy and extremely brittle. They even smelled bad. To say they were unreliable was an understatement. Though Earl Tupper is credited as the man who invented Tupperware, his contributions to plastic go further than the history of Tupperware. He was the pioneer who developed a way to purify a waste product called polyethylene slag into a plastic that was flexible, clear, and durable.

After inventing his plastic containers in 1939, he came up with an ingenious solution for a lid, modeled after an upside down lid used for paint containers. Until Earl Tupper, who invented Tupperware, came along, most people stored their food items in wood, metal, or glass containers. In 1946, Tupper first introduced Tupperware, which originally came in clear and pastel colors, and were distributed in department stores.

And thus, the history of Tupperware was born! But this marvelous product did have one significant flaw: because it was so revolutionary, consumers did not understand the product. They had no idea that they needed it in their homes, or even how to “burp” the patented seal.

Enter Brownie Wise

Brownie Wise was a south Florida mom who was experienced in direct sales. She was a top seller with Stanley Home Products, which was a pioneer in the home party plan business.

They sold cleaners and brushes. When she found Tupperware selling in department stores, she started to add it to the line of products she was selling at her home demonstrations.

By simply educating the consumer on how to use the patented “burp” lid, Brownie became one of the highest sellers of Tupperware as well, selling more than most department stores. The first Tupperware party took place in 1948.

Prior to this, Earl Tupper had tried his own hand at home parties, but was largely unsuccessful. In 1951, when he started to notice the success Brownie Wise was having with her party plan sales, he approached her and asked her to become Vice President of Tupperware.

History of Tupperware Home Demonstrations

In 1951, Tupperware products were taken off the shelves at department stores and became exclusively sold at home demonstrations. With Brownie Wise leading up the sales department, Tupperware experienced massive growth.

Brownie Wise was excellent at sales and at motivating the selling team. She realized that the women who sold Tupperware at home parties were responsible for the success of the company, and rewarded them in ways unheard of during that time period.

Brownie was famous for creating significant ways to recognize these work at home women, from fantastic prizes and trophies, to the annual Jubilee celebration, which combines nationwide recognition with goof ball humor and fun.

Brownie loved the attention she received as Vice President, and was featured nationwide on talk shows and in the news. This worked well because Earl Tupper did not like the attention. That was until 1958, when it was commented that Brownie Wise was the driving force behind Tupperware, and Earl Tupper, who invented Tupperware, and his plastics never would have made it without her.

In a fit of jealousy, in 1958, Tupper fired Brownie Wise, completely out of the blue. She had no stock options in the company and received just one year’s salary. He then sold Tupperware to Rexall Drug Company for $16million. As for Brownie, she tried to start several companies over the next forty years, unsuccessfully, and eventually died in 1992.

Tupperware, however, continued, and became bigger and better. Tupperware has constantly invented new products to go with the times, products meant for the dishwasher, freezer and microwave, as well as products that save users time or add an aesthetic appeal. Tupperware now reaches more than 100 markets worldwide.

What are your thoughts? Did Brownie Wise get a fair shake?

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