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19 Places You Won't Believe Exist

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You don't have to be a world traveler to lose yourself in the fantastic places that dot our planet. Here are 19 of the most unbelievable wonders around the globe. 

1. NEW ZEALAND'S GLOWWORM CAVES

In 1887, Maori Chief Tane Tinorau and English surveyor Fred Mace made an astonishing discovery in New Zealand: a complex of caves illuminated by an otherworldly blue-green glow. For generations, the Maori had whispered about the caverns, but presumably no one had ventured deep inside until this pair went exploring by raft and candlelight. What they found was remarkable. The limestone ceilings of the cave system were strung with thousands of glowing creatures, the larvae of a carnivorous fungus gnat called Arachnocampa luminosa. These “glowworms” use blue bioluminescence to attract prey, which they then ensnare by dangling a gooey string of mucus. These glittering critters don’t live the high life for long—adults don’t have a digestive system and survive only a few days. Today, thousands of tourists flock to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves to catch a glimpse of their brief but stunning show.

2. CHILE'S MOST VIBRANT CITY

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Hugging the Pacific coast, Valparaíso was South America’s greatest international waterway until the Panama Canal stole the spotlight. The city is home to Latin America’s first stock exchange, Chile’s first public library, and the world’s oldest continuously running Spanish-language newspaper. Colorful homes dominate, mostly perched on hillsides in a maze of cobblestone alleys. In 2003, its historic quarter was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3. WYOMING'S PSYCHEDELIC HOT SPRINGS

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Photosynthetic cyanobacteria really know how to dress up a place. Yellowstone National Park’s Grand Prismatic Spring gets its signature look as different bacteria produce color-altering carotenoids, which help the microbes survive the heat and protect themselves from sunlight. (Since it’s cooler as you move near the edges, the carotenoid colors change.) The result is a vivid prism of color surrounding the 189°F blue center.

4. INDIA'S FLORAL WONDERLAND

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Trek to the Valley of Flowers, part of a national park in the west Himalayas, and you’ll understand why yogis have long meditated here and why, according to Hindu myth, it’s a place of healing. For most of the year, the site is covered in snow. But in summer, more than 600 types of flora make their entrance: Orchids, poppies, and daisies of all shades blanket emerald meadows. Situated at the core of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, it is recognized by UNESCO for having “outstanding universal value.”

5. ETHIOPIA'S VOLCANIC VENTS

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With sulfur hills, boiling hot springs, and bubbling pools of green acid, the Dallol Hydrothermal Field, in the Danakil Desert, looks like something out of a Seussian nightmare. A constant flow of super-salty hydrothermal water—heated by magma and mixed with mud, iron, and algae—gives the area its fantastic colors. At nearly 400 feet below sea level, it’s the world’s lowest terrestrial volcanic vent. It’s also one of the hottest places on earth, averaging 94°F year-round.

6. A CZECH REPUBLIC BONE EMPORIUM

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The Sedlec Ossuary is one of the most macabre sites in Europe, second perhaps only to the Paris Catacombs. Here, tens of thousands of bones cling to every nook and cranny—strung into garlands, piled onto pillars, and stacked into pyramids lurking in the corners. There’s even a coat of arms made entirely of bones, created for a noble family, as well as an 8-foot chandelier said to contain every bone in the human body. All told, the remains of approximately 40,000 people decorate the ossuary, which is sunk below the Church of All Saints in Sedlec, a suburb of Kutná Hora in the Czech Republic.

Legend has it that in the 13th century, Sedlec’s abbot, sent by the king of Bohemia on a diplomatic mission to Jerusalem, brought back dirt from the purported site of Golgotha (location of Jesus’s crucifixion) to sanctify the monastery’s cemetery. Soon everybody wanted to be buried there, and over centuries it expanded to hold the victims of the plague and the Hussite wars. The ossuary was constructed in the 14th century to hold extra bones; the first decorative touches may have been added in the 15th century, when a half-blind monk allegedly arranged the bones into pyramids around the room. But a Czech carpenter named František Rint made the ossuary’s real standouts—the coat of arms and bone chandelier—in the 1870s. He even left his signature, constructed from arm and hand bones, near a staircase. Just imagine the skeletons he left in the closet.

7. BRAZIL'S SKYSCRAPER CEMETERY 

“Six feet under” may soon be an outdated phrase as cemeteries like Brazil’s Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica climb to the heavens. The 32-story building is the tallest cemetery in the world. It will eventually hold 180,000 bodies.

8. MANILA'S SLEEPY HOLLOW

Manila North Cemetery in the Philippines may be the only place outside of fiction where the dead and living coexist. Some 10,000 people live among the graves, running businesses and making homes in family crypts where ancestors are never far away.

9. ROMANIA'S BONEYARD OF POEMS

At Romania’s Merry Cemetery, blue crosses are adorned with paintings and funny poems. Here’s one for a mother-in-law: “You, who here are passing by / Not to wake her up please try / Cause if she comes back home / She’ll criticize me more.”

10. SIBERIA'S SECRET GALAPAGOS

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Lake Baikal might just be the biggest ecological record-setter you’ve never heard of. Nestled in the Siberian mountains north of Mongolia, Baikal is the largest freshwater reservoir in the world by volume, containing 20 percent of the world’s unfrozen surface freshwater. That’s more than all the Great Lakes combined. It’s also believed to be the oldest lake in the world (a spry 25 million years) and the deepest, surpassing 5000 feet in some spots. The water is among the world’s clearest, so transparent you can see 130 feet down.

Siberia doesn’t have a reputation for being a nurturing environment, but Baikal bucks the stereotype. It’s home to around 2000 species of plants and animals, and two-thirds of those species can’t be found anywhere else in the world. The Baikal seal (or nerpa) is the only freshwater seal on the planet. The golomyanka (or Baikal oil fish) is partly translucent, has no scales, and can handle vast changes in pressure thanks to special porous bones and loads of lipids. No wonder the lake has been called the “Galapagos of Russia.”

And it’s bound to break more records. Lake Baikal sits in an active continental rift valley, created as Asia slowly tears apart. As the rift grows at nearly an inch a year, the land below will continue to sink, increasing Baikal’s depth. Right now, the basin is about 400 miles long and 50 miles wide. In millions of years, it will stake its claim as Earth’s sixth ocean. 

11. THE PHILIPPINE META ISLANDS

Here’s a mind puzzle: On the island of Luzon, Taal Lake rests in a volcanic caldera. It contains an island that, at its center, has a crater lake—which also has an island. In other words, an island on a lake on an island on a lake on an island. Got it?

12. DOMINICA'S SCALDING POND

Dominica’s Boiling Lake is technically a large hot spring. It sits at a scalding 200°F but it boils in the center—it’s so hot a cloud of vapor floats above the surface. The lake may be 200 feet deep, though no one is adventurous enough to dive in and check.

13. AN ANTARCTIC SALT LAKE

Don Juan Pond in Antarctica is so salty it could almost be classified as brine. Because of all that salt, Don Juan is impervious to the elements: The pool, about a foot at its deepest, never freezes, even in temperatures as low as -40°F.

14. A FORGOTTEN FOREST IN WALES

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In January 2014, violent winter storms along Wales’s coast revealed the petrified remains of a prehistoric forest near the town of Borth. To some, the jagged stumps of oak and pine, buried around 4,500 years ago, were proof of the nation’s Atlantis: According to Welsh legend, the mythical kingdom of Cantre’r Gwaelod was drowned below the waves when a distracted maiden allowed a well to overflow.

15. AN ATLANTIC SHIPWRECK

During the Civil War, a steamship named the Mary Celestia sank off the coast of Bermuda. Over the years, hurricanes swept tons of sand to and from the shipwreck, revealing new nooks and crannies for archaeologists and divers to explore. In 2015 a bottle of wine discovered with the wreck was uncorked at a South Carolina wine festival. Somehow, its heady bouquet of sulfur, saltwater, and gasoline failed to win the blue ribbon.

16. BRITAIN'S HIDDEN ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES

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Relics buried underground can cause the grass above to grow differently, causing strange lines in the grass—called cropmarks—that become especially obvious during dry spells. In 2010, a heat wave in Britain revealed 60 new archaeological sites— including Roman forts and prehistoric villages. Then, in 2013, maintenance workers failed to water parts of Stonehenge, and suddenly the parched grass revealed where ancient stones once stood, proving it was once a complete circle.

17. PERU'S FLOATING ISLANDS

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For centuries, the land around Lake Titicaca belonged to the Uros people. But when the Incans forced the Uros off their territory hundreds of years ago, they adapted in an astounding and unparalleled way: by abandoning land itself. Using totora reed, the Uros constructed their own islands. It was a handy defense strategy—if they ever felt threatened, they could just move their home.

Today, the floating village comprises about 60 islands. The larger islands hold up to 10 families, or about 50 people, while others can only accommodate a couple. (Along with waterproof thatched reed homes, residents share an outhouse island!) With continual maintenance, each island can last up to 30 years. But since the reeds decompose in the water, producing gases that help keep the islands buoyant, new reeds must be added regularly. That means the base of each island can be up to 8 feet thick.

For years, the Uros lived in seclusion, about 9 miles into the lake, but a nasty storm in 1986 convinced them to move closer to land. When they dropped anchor near Puno, Peru, they discovered a surprising byproduct: tourism. Today, visitors to the the village might feel like they’ve left the modern world, but in fact the Uros don’t shy from modern technology: They use motorboats and solar-powered televisions, and even have their own radio station. 

18. A PALEOLITHIC PRESERVE IN THE NETHERLANDS

Flevoland is a Dutch province that was once underwater—an inlet of the North Sea—until it was drained in the 1950s. Today, it’s home to some 400,000 people and a modern Jurassic Park: A nature preserve stocked with paleolithic-era animals.

19. MIRRORED MOUNTAINS

For six months a year, the Norwegian town of Rjukan is cast in perpetual shadow by the surrounding mountains. To fix the problem, an artist in 2013 installed mirrors on the mountainside, which bathe the town square in sunlight.

Amanda Green, Bess Lovejoy, Caitlin Schneider


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How a Single Mom Created a Plastic Food-Storage Empire
John Ueland
John Ueland

On an unseasonably warm day in April 1954, hundreds of women in cowboy hats gathered outside Tupperware’s Florida headquarters to dig for buried treasure. There, in a nearby swampy area dubbed the “Forest of Spades,” 600 shovels stood at the ready. The excitement was palpable. At the appointed signal, the women raced for the roped-off soil, grabbed shovels, and began to hunt frantically for loot.

It was the pinnacle of the inaugural Tupperware Jubilee, a five-day, gold-rush-themed affair celebrating all things Tupperware. No expense was spared: To give the event a Western feel, frontier-style buildings with false fronts had been erected and bulls and horses were trucked in. The women, and a smattering of men, had traveled from all across the country to participate. A collection of Tupperware dealers, distributors, and sales managers, they made the pilgrimage for the motivational speeches, sales instruction, and especially for the bizarre bonding rituals.

For five hours that day, they prospected for mink stoles and freezer units, gold watches and diamond rings. One of them, Fay Maccalupo of Buffalo, New York, dug up a toy car. When she saw the real Ford it represented, she planted her face against the hood and began to weep, repeating, “I love everybody.” Four women fainted and had to be revived with smelling salts. It was understandable, considering that the total cash value of all the prizes buried in the Florida dirt was $75,000.

Presiding over the treasure hunt was the general sales manager of the Tupperware Home Parties division, a 40-year-old woman named Brownie Wise. For hours, she cheered on the ladies from a loudspeaker with an air of royalty. As she watched them hop on shovels and unearth the rewards of their labors, she couldn’t help but feel proud. Wise took satisfaction in seeing her hard work pay off—once again. The jubilee, which she had organized, had all the pizzazz and spirit expected of an official Tupperware event. The media agreed: Network news was there to cover it, and Life magazine ran a photo essay highlighting the excitement and glamour.

Clearly, there’s more to Tupperware than leftovers. The story of the ubiquitous plastic container is a story of innovation and reinvention: how a new kind of plastic, made from an industrial waste material, ended up a symbol of female empowerment. The product ushered women into the workforce, encouraging them to make their own money, better their families, and win accolades and prizes without fear of being branded that 1950s anathema, “the career woman.”

Digging in the dirt for a gold watch may not mesh with today’s concept of a successful working woman, but at the time, the near-religious fervor seen at the jubilees and other Tupperware gatherings demonstrated just how ground-breaking the company’s sales plan was—the product became a multimillion dollar success not by exploiting women, but by embracing and boosting them. All of this was because of Brownie Wise. The story of Tupperware is her story.

Brownie Wise, named for her big, brown eyes, was born in rural Georgia. Her parents divorced when she was young, and as a teen she traveled with her mother, who organized union rallies. While touring the Deep South, Brownie started giving speeches at her mother’s rallies and soon proved to be a gifted and motivating orator. She “awed people,” writes Bob Kealing in his biography Tupperware Unsealed. “[They] were surprised that someone so young could deliver a speech like a pastor.”

Wise was married briefly, but by 27, she was a divorced single mom in suburban Detroit. During World War II, she worked as a secretary at Bendix Aviation, a company that made parts for navy torpedo planes. It was a decent but unfulfilling job. On the side, Wise penned an advice column for the Detroit News, writing under the alter ego “Hibiscus.” A housewife who led an idyllic life with her child and husband in a home called “Lovehaven,” Hibiscus had everything Wise did not. But what Wise did possess was an endless fountain of determination. As she wrote in a journal at that time, “I wanted to be a successful human being.”

It all started with a bad door-to-door salesman. When a Stanley Home Products salesman knocked on her door and proceeded to deliver a terrible sales pitch for cleaning supplies, Wise scoffed that she could do better. At the time, Stanley was experimenting with a peculiar sales model: home parties. A New Hampshire mop salesman had watched his numbers fly through the roof after he invited a bunch of women over for a party that included a mop demonstration. The company encouraged other salesmen to try the strategy, but many of them delegated the party-hosting to their wives. Thinking it’d be a fun job on the side, Wise started selling Stanley products at parties too. Before long, she was making enough money to quit her job at Bendix.

Wise was blessed with the gift of gab, and her special blend of folksy real talk and motherly encouragement helped her rise through Stanley’s ranks. Soon she was in management and hoping to ascend even higher. But those illusions were quashed at a meeting with Stanley head Frank Beveridge, who told Wise she’d never become an executive. Its halls were “no place for a woman,” he said. Wise returned home furious. The rejection lit a fire in her—she vowed that someday, somehow, she would prove Beveridge wrong.

She didn’t know that the key to fulfilling this dream would be in plastic food-storage containers. Wise first glimpsed Tupperware at a sales meeting. One of her coworkers had seen the products gathering dust in a department store and decided to bring them in. At first, Wise didn’t think they were anything special. But when she accidentally knocked a Tupperware bowl off the table, she realized its full potential: Instead of breaking, it bounced.

It seemed like magic. Tupperware was unlike any home product she’d seen before. It was attractive, coming in pastel colors and flexible shapes, almost like art. More importantly, it was functional—no other competing product even came close. Convinced of its potential, Wise traded in her Stanley brooms in 1949 and started throwing parties to sell Tupperware. What she didn’t intend, exactly, was to kindle a revolution.

AP

The most amazing thing about Tupperware wasn’t that it extended the life of leftovers and a family’s budget, although it did both remarkably well. It was, above all, a career maker. When women came to one of Wise’s parties, they were more than just convinced to buy the product— Wise was such a charming host that she persuaded many buyers to also become Tupperware salespeople. The more parties Wise hosted, the more tricks she learned to convert women into Tupperware faithful. Putting people on waiting lists, for instance, made them more eager to buy, so she signed them up regardless of whether the product was available. She also discovered that throwing containers full of liquid across the room made customers reach straight for their checkbooks. Amassing more and more saleswomen, Wise encouraged her followers to do the same. By October 1949, she had 19 recruits, enough to move her supplies out of her house and into a larger warehouse. Driven by the idea of making money simply by throwing parties for friends and neighbors, the women in Wise’s workforce ballooned in number. Soon, other Tupperware parties were taking place across the country. Wise’s team in Detroit was selling more Tupperware than most department stores. This soon attracted the attention of the no-nonsense founder of the Tupperware Corporation, Earl Silas Tupper.

Tupperware, true to its name, was Tupper’s masterpiece, and he was counting on it to make his dreams come true. Having grown up in a poor Massachusetts farm family, he had vowed to make a million dollars by the time he was 30. He hadn’t. He did have a host of esoteric inventions—among them, a fish-powered boat and no-drip ice cream cone—under his belt. But with a wife and family to support, he’d concentrated on a practical career in plastics, first at DuPont and then at a company of his own, which made parts for Jeeps and gas masks during World War II. When the war ended, Tupper decided to buy cheap surpluses left over from wartime manufacturing. He figured he’d be able to do something with them.

That’s how he ended up with a glob of greasy black polyethylene, a smelly waste product left behind when metal is created from ore. Tupper took it and, after months of trial and error, wrangled the slag into submission, creating a light-weight plastic that refused to break. Tupper dubbed it “Poly-T,” and, taking inspiration from the way paint cans sealed, created a flexible container with a noiseless lid that snapped on. He called the box Tupperware. He patented the seal in 1949 and rolled out 14 products he called the “Millionaire Line.” The only problem? He couldn’t get anyone to buy it.

At least not until Wise came along. Her sales record was remarkable—in 1949, she’d rung up $150,000 in orders and was offered a promotion: distribution rights to the entire state of Florida. In the spring of 1950, she moved south with her son, Jerry, and her mother. She found a store space, and by May she’d opened her business and was scouting for new salespeople.

Still, not everything was going smoothly. Along with disputes over turf with other distributors, she was constantly contending with botched orders, shipping delays, and product shortages. In March of 1951, Wise had had enough. She called Tupper in a fury. It was the first time they’d spoken, but she was too livid for niceties; she ripped into him immediately. This was hurting not just her bottom line, but also his. Did he not understand how crucial it was that the problems be fixed immediately? Tupper assured her that he’d fix any issues and then asked a favor: He wanted to hear her sales secrets.

The next month, the two met at a conference on Long Island and Wise explained her selling technique. It was pointless, she explained, to think that people would see Tupperware on store shelves or in catalogs and want to buy it. Instead, people had to touch it, squeeze it, drop it, seal it. They had to experience Tupperware from a trusted friend or neighbor. She gave a bold prescription for saving Tupper’s business: Ditch department stores altogether and focus entirely on throwing home parties.

Tupper took the advice to heart. So much, in fact, that the day after their meeting, he created a new division just for home parties and asked Wise to be the general manager. Wise had reached her goal: She had become an executive. It was a perfect fit, too. She had a stellar track record—she was selling more Tupperware than anyone anywhere—and Tupper was bowled over by her charm. “You talk a lot and everybody listens,” he said.

“She was the yin to Tupper’s yang,” Kealing writes. “Where he was fussy and reclusive, Wise lived to mingle with and inspire the dealer workforce.” They were a match made in sales heaven. Or so it seemed.

AP

In 1952, the first full year of Wise’s watch, Tupperware sales rocketed. Wholesale orders exceeded $2 million. During the last half of the year, sales tripled. Tupperware parties did exactly what Wise promised they would, and she became the company’s shining star. That year, Tupper gave her a salary of $20,933.33, more than she had ever made. For her birthday in 1953, he presented her with a gold-dyed palomino horse. Even more remarkably, he gave her the freedom to do practically whatever she wanted. So Wise traveled the country recruiting, presiding over sales conferences, and announcing contests and doling out prizes for incentive—including, sometimes, her own clothes.

By the looks of it, most of Wise’s Tupperware recruits fit neatly into the stereotypical role of a proper housewife. But, in reality, they surreptitiously represented a new kind of female empowerment. During World War II, many women had no choice but to enter the workforce. At its end, many of them had no choice but to leave it. Suddenly, selling Tupperware at parties allowed women to straddle both worlds. They were employed, yet they didn’t appear to challenge their husbands' authority or the status quo. This pioneering entrepreneurial model allowed them to inhabit a workforce outside of the one the hustling salesman inhabited, and, in many cases, to do even better than he did. And that power relied specifically on a network of female friends and neighbors.

The parties weren’t just a way for women to keep occupied—it was a way they could contribute to their family’s bottom line. Most women who worked outside the home had low-paying jobs in fields like light manufacturing, retail, clerical work, and health and education. The money—committed dealers could bring in $100 or more per week—was a revelation. The opportunity for success was so great that the husbands of some Tupperware ladies left their own jobs to work with their wives.

Wise was something of an early Oprah, giving away fantastic prizes, operating in a grass-roots, word-of-mouth fashion and showing rather than telling other women how to succeed in the comfort of their own homes. The fact that she made many women understand the benefits of becoming salespeople, building the brand further, simply made her a fantastic executive.

Wise embraced the spirit of female entrepreneurship wholeheartedly. In her prime, she wrote a morale-boosting newsletter called Tupperware Sparks, published a primer called Tupperware Know-How, and had a 52-minute film, A Tupperware Home Party, made as a training tool. She even convinced Tupper to move the company headquarters to Florida. When Tupper bought property in Kissimmee, Wise turned it into a Mecca-like pilgrimage site for Tupperware devotees.

Part of the power of Wise’s sales technique, which at times seemed more faith than business, was that it gave the impression that the sky was the limit, and it relied on collective power. This wasn’t just the traditional salesperson’s dog-eat-dog world: Instead, the group was a “family” that helped one another climb to the top. Women who had previously only had their names in print upon birth or marriage were being recognized for their success, with their names, photographs, and accomplishments appearing in Wise’s newsletters. Along with making their own money, they received rewards—top distributors got cars—and the chance to collaborate with other women in a friendly but competitive environment. Wise increased the fervor with her annual jubilees, which had their own rituals, like candlelit graduation ceremonies and group sing-alongs featuring choruses of “I’ve got that Tupper feeling deep in my heart.”

“No woman got praised for scrubbing floors,” Elsie Mortland, who became Tupperware’s Home Kitchen Demonstrator, told Kealing in an interview in 2005. “But when they got praised for selling Tupperware, they had something to be proud of.”

Wise was the head of the household, and the Tupperware ladies all wanted to be a part of her extended family. Success was limited only by how hard a person was willing to work, a belief that Wise preached passionately. Unfortunately, she had been duped into thinking her boss shared that opinion.

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As Wise became the face of Tupperware, sales and press continued to skyrocket. In 1954, she was the first woman to appear on the cover of Business Week. But as glowing as the magazine’s profile was, it contained warning signs about the future of her partnership with Tupper. The piece credited Wise and her sales technique with Tupperware’s estimated $25 million in retail sales and seemed to downplay Tupper’s role as president of the company he had created.

Tupper had never craved the spotlight; in fact, he was known to use the back door of his office to avoid attracting attention. But he was keen to ensure that his product, not an employee, received the lion’s share of any attention. And somewhere along the way, Wise had started to upstage the plastic containers she helped make famous. After the Business Week article, Tupper wrote a note to Wise that contained a glimmer of the storm that was to come: “However, good executive as you are, I still like best the pictures ... with TUPPERWARE!”

The good press continued but, in 1955, after several powerful distributors left the company, sales began to lag. Hard times strained Wise and Tupper’s relationship. By 1956, angry letters were flying back and forth between them, and at one point, Tupper stopped taking Wise’s calls. Her complaints and frank criticisms, previously helpful, had become jabs he couldn’t endure. He also started to believe that she was costing him money, irked that she had her own side business selling self-help books at company events. More to the point, he started to suspect that if he tried selling the company—which he was planning to do—having a female executive would get in the way.

Finally, in 1958, Tupper flew to Florida and fired Wise. After a heated legal battle, she received only $30,000 as a settlement. She didn’t own her house and was ordered to vacate. She had no stocks in the company; she didn’t even own many of the clothes she wore. The man she’d helped make a millionaire didn’t seem to care: Tupper ordered her name expunged from the company history and buried the 600 remaining copies of her book in an unmarked pit behind Tupperware’s Florida headquarters. Later that year, he sold the company to Rexall Drug for $16 million, divorced his wife, and bought an island in Central America. He died in Costa Rica in 1983. Wise, on the other hand, tried starting new companies but never achieved the same success she had with Tupperware. She led a quiet life with her horses, pottery, and her son until she died at her home in Kissimmee in 1992.

Her influence, however, has not waned. Today, according to the PBS American Experience documentary Tupperware!, the product is sold in about 100 countries, while “every 2.5 seconds, a Tupperware party is held somewhere in the world.” In this respect, the Golden Age of Tupperware hasn’t ended so much as it has solidified. When was the last time you stored food in a plastic container with a sealing mechanism? Tupperware is so much a part of our food culture that we don’t even think about its continuing influence, and yet we still rely on it daily.

This story is one of reinvention too: a useless plastic reimagined into something needed, of food being stored in wholly new ways, of women emerging from their kitchens to showcase their worth and proclaim their identities, of sales techniques evolving to embrace the customer, and of the singular character of Brownie Wise, who changed what it meant to be a woman in the workforce. Because of that, as Houston Post writer Napoleon Hill wrote in 1956, “It has been estimated that Brownie Wise has helped more women to financial success than any other single living person.”

Early in Wise’s tenure at the company, Tupper presented her with a piece of the raw polyethylene he’d used to make Tupperware. She saw it as poetic proof of his vision: He had created something beautiful from this unappealing glob of plastic, using nothing but imagination and persistence. It was “the best sales story I have ever heard in all my life,” she wrote. She considered “Poly,” as Tupper called it, a prized possession and would have her women touch it for good luck, telling them, “Just get your fingers on it, wish for what you want. Know it’s going to come true, and then get out and work like everything ... and it will!”

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The Confederacy's Plan to Conquer Latin America
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In the years leading up to the Civil War, many Northerners and Southerners alike wanted the federal government to take a more aggressive approach toward acquiring new territory. In fact, some private citizens, known as filibusters, took matters into their own hands. They raised small armies illegally; ventured into Mexico, Cuba, and South America; and attempted to seize control of the lands. One particularly successful filibuster, William Walker, actually made himself president of Nicaragua and ruled from 1856 to 1857.

For the most part, these filibusters were just men in search of adventure. Others, however, were Southern imperialists who wanted to conquer new territories in the tropics. Abolitionist factions in the North greatly opposed their efforts, and the debate over Southern expansion only increased tensions in a divided nation. As the country drifted into war, U.S. Vice President John Breckinridge of Kentucky warned that "the Southern states cannot afford to be shut off from all possibility of expansion towards the tropics by the hostile action of the federal government."

But Abraham Lincoln's election in November 1860 put an end to the argument. The anti-slavery president refused to compromise on the issue, and war broke out in April 1861.

CONFEDERATE COLONIES, SOUTH OF THE BORDER

Winning the war was clearly a higher priority for the Confederacy than conquering Latin America, but growth was certainly on the post-war agenda. The Confederate constitution included the right to expand, and Confederacy president Jefferson Davis filled his cabinet with men who thought similarly. He even hinted that the slave trade could be revived in "new acquisitions to be made south of the Rio Grande."

During the Civil War, Confederate agents attempted to destabilize Mexico so that its territories would be easy to snatch up after the war. One rebel emissary to Mexico City, John T. Pickett, secretly fomented rebellion in several Mexican provinces with an eye to "the permanent possession of that beautiful country." Pickett's mission ended in failure in 1861, but fate dealt the South a better hand in 1863. French Emperor Napoleon III seized Mexico, and the move provided the South with a perfect excuse to "liberate" the country after the Civil War.

Of course, Mexico was just part of the pie that the South hoped to inherit. Confederate leaders also had their eyes squarely on Brazil—a country of 3 million square miles and more than 8 million people. Prior to the outbreak of the war, Matthew Maury, one of the forces behind the U.S. Naval Academy, dispatched two Navy officers to the Amazon basin, ostensibly to map the river for shipping. Instead, they were secretly plotting domination and collecting data about separatist movements in the region. When the South lost the war, Maury refused to abandon his plans. He helped up to 20,000 ex-rebels flee to Brazil, where they established the Confederate colonies of New Texas and Americana. To this day, hundreds of descendants of the Confederados still gather outside Americana to celebrate their shared heritage of rocking chairs and sweet potato pie. In a strange way, a part of the Old South still survives—thousands of miles below the U.S. border.

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