15 Tupperware Facts From the Back of the Fridge

YouTube
YouTube

Tupperware™ is a household name in food storage, but there’s a lot you may not know about this decades-old container company.

1. TUPPERWARE GETS ITS NAME FROM CREATOR EARL TUPPER.

The famed storage containers weren't named at random. Inventor Earl Tupper branded the plastic sets with his own name after years of working with plastic and decades of flopped inventions. Tupper was a prolific innovator who had begun his own business, Tupper Tree Doctors, to help him in his goal to become a millionaire at age 30, while also supporting his wife and five children. After business dried up with the Great Depression, Tupper landed a job at a plastics factory in Leominster, Massachusetts. The new gig inspired him to venture out on his own and mold the then-new material into beads and plastic cigarette containers. By the late 1940s, Tupper’s experiments produced the first Tupperware bowls—called Wonderbowls.

2. TUPPER CREATED A NAIL DESIGN KIT THAT WAS AHEAD OF ITS TIME.

Tupper didn’t just create food storage solutions. He was a serial inventor and his notebooks (which have been digitized and are stored at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History) feature dozens of ideas meant to solve everyday problems. Tupper thought up no-drip ice cream cones, more comfortable corsets, fishing poles that weighed your catch as it was reeled in, and even a fish-propelled boat. One of Tupper’s ideas prior to Tupperware was his nail design kit. Created in 1937, the kits included tiny, plastic embellishments that could be glued on for dazzling manicures. While friends and family enjoyed the kits, they never went to market.

3. TUPPER'S EARLY BOWLS WERE WORKS OF ART.

Tupper focused heavily the Wonderbowl’s design, working to create an elegant piece of dishware that stood out from other kitchen items sold in stores. Initially, the Wonderbowl snagged accolades and won several design contests. By 1956, Tupper’s plastic products were even on display at the New York Museum of Modern Art. For some time, Tupper even had a Fifth Avenue retail spot for his innovative food storage bowls.

4. THE STORAGE CONTAINERS WERE INITIALLY A FLOP.

While Tupper was a clever inventor, he wasn’t the best at marketing. In its early days, Tupperware struggled at its Fifth Avenue store and catalogue sales slumped. Even with a good idea, Tupper’s salesman skills weren’t strong. His previously invented "Sure-Stay" bobby pins offered superior grip to other hairpins, but Tupper’s awkward ad copy didn’t make the sale: "Many women wear more or less false hair. Wigs cost good money, and romance or social prestige often hangs by the hairs on one’s head. A good 'Sure-Stay' hairpin is needed." Early Tupperware suffered similar slumping sales as Tupper’s other oddly marketed products.

5. A MOM-TURNED-SALESWOMAN SAVED TUPPERWARE.

Tupper believed he had created a useful piece of art for the modern housewife, but he knew his efforts weren’t helping the products sell. And if it weren’t for Brownie Wise, a divorced single mom with an eighth-grade education and expert sales skills, Tupperware wouldn’t have become a household name. Despite being a successful saleswoman for Stanley Home Products, Wise knew she had no future with the company after being told "management is no place for a woman." After encountering Tupperware, Wise quit selling brooms in 1949 and picked up plastic storage containers. That same year, she sold $150,000 worth of Tupperware and became a distributor for the state of Florida. After several years of sales, Wise called up Tupper to express her dismay about the downsides of the company, namely incorrect orders and shipping delays. Within a month, the two met and Wise gave Tupper the secret to her success and Tupperware’s future: home party sales.

6. BROWNIE WISE JUMP-STARTED THE HOME PARTY SALES.

Soon after Tupper met with Wise, she was offered a leadership role unusual for a woman in the 1950s: Vice President of Tupperware. Wise’s grand idea for Tupperware’s success wasn’t her own. Her former employer, Stanley Home Products, only sold its goods through home parties at a time when many sales companies still sold door-to-door. But, she used the sales tactic to Tupperware’s advantage, successfully transforming the company into a thriving home goods company and changing the way retailers of the time made sales. Within Wise’s first year as vice president, Tupperware orders surpassed $2 million, all because of the home party idea. At the heart of it, she knew it was the small people along the Tupperware chain that made the company successful: "Build the people and they’ll build the business."

7. EARLY TUPPERWARE SELLERS DIDN'T SELL—THEY DATED PARTIES.

Selling Tupperware was a viable side job for many stay-at-home mothers and housewives of the 1950s, '60s, and beyond. Hawking these plastic containers and tools required little specialty training and could be scaled up or down based on a woman’s schedule. But Tupperware made it clear that its saleswomen—called dealers or consultants—weren't scheduling sales pitches, they were "dating" parties (which even today Tupperware explains as "a.k.a. scheduling"). The goal was to create an atmosphere of fun complete with games, such as one where guests won Tupperware miniatures for writing the best sales ad for their husbands.

8. TOP TUPPERWARE SELLERS ROPED IN THEIR HUSBANDS.

While most Tupperware sellers were women, those who did exceptionally well got their husbands involved. Top Tupperware dealers quickly rose through the ranks and could be promoted from dealer to manager, which had perks such as additional commission, features in the company newsletter and prizes at the annual Tupperware Jubilee. But women who excelled at manager status could become a regional distributor, tasked with overseeing Tupperware sales and operations in their area. Because of social conventions of the time—and the difficulty for women to get their own business loans or have a bank account—married women were only awarded a distributor role if their husbands agreed to quit their day jobs and join their wives full-time.

9. WISE LOVED TO REWARD TUPPERWARE SELLERS WITH EXTRAVAGANT PRIZES.

As part of fostering Tupperware’s hardest workers, Wise launched the annual Tupperware Home Parties Jubilee, a gathering of top hostesses, managers, and distributors. With exotic themes such as "Around the World in 80 Days" and "Arabian Nights," Tupperware’s best won German clocks, fur stoles and coats, Chinese carvings, and entire wardrobes packed with clothing. At the first Jubilee in 1954, Wise ran with a gold rush theme that led to attendees digging up buried prizes.

10. ONE TUPPERWARE JUBILEE LED TO COUNTLESS LAWSUITS.

The 1957 Tupperware Jubilee went horribly awry due to dangerous weather. Wise planned an island party but when a thunderstorm threatened the beach luau, a panicked rush by the 1200 guests led to several boat accidents and 21 injured attendees. Tupperware spent several years in and out of courtrooms handling injury lawsuits.

11. TUPPERWARE'S SECRET WAS IN THE BURP.

The key to perfect food preservation lies in the Tupperware "burp," the process of closing the lid and reopening a small portion to let out any remaining air. Earl Tupper's idea for lid burping came from the practice of closing paint cans with the intention of creating an airtight seal. But, the burping process wasn’t easy for everyone, such as people with disabilities or difficulty using their hands. Tupperware introduced its Instant Seals line in the 1960s, featuring containers that could be closed with the push of a finger.

12. TUPPERWARE CREATED ITS OWN TOY.

At the height of Tupperware mania, the company began to sample plastic products outside of dishware, such as drawer organizers, portable lap desks, and fly swatters. With the baby boom well underway, Tupperware set out to create its own toy in the 1960s—the Shape-O. Kids have been popping geometric shapes into this large red and blue ball ever since.

13. TUPPERWARE CONTAINERS ARE IMPRINTED WITH BRAILLE.

In 1993, Tupperware looked to make food storage more accessible for people with visual impairments. The company launched its CrystalWave line in the early 1990s, including Braille on the bottom of containers to indicate volume.

14. BROWNIE WISE AND EARL TUPPER DIDN'T END ON GOOD TERMS.

While Tupperware has gone on to become a staple in kitchens nationwide, the team that made it a household staple wasn't nearly so indestructible. While Tupper and Wise didn’t always get along, their teamwork helped grow the company and its products. But by 1958, Tupper allegedly had enough of Wise’s ideas, extravagant spending and reputation as the "First Lady of Tupperware"—not to mention the previous year's Jubilee disaster. Tupper supposedly told top Tupperware executives that he'd "had enough of Brownie Wise" and planned to fire her. Wise had no stock in the company and after battling Tupper in court, received one year’s salary as severance pay. Wise went on to dabble in her own home party cosmetics companies, though never found the same level of success as she had with Tupperware. Tupper sold Tupperware within a year for $16 million, divorced his wife, and moved to Costa Rica. He died there in 1983; Wise died in 1992.

15. VINTAGE TUPPERWARE IS A HOT COLLECTIBLE.

Tupperware styles have changed with each decade to reflect new ideas, color schemes, and food storage needs. Older containers have become common collectibles and many sets, such as the iconic Wonderlier Bowls manufactured throughout the 1960s, sell for nearly $45 per set. Even the Smithsonian has its own stash of more than 100 Tupperware pieces, dating between 1946 and 1999. Who knew your fridge was housing such an important part of pop culture? Just make sure you don't lose any lids.

25 Amazing Facts About the Human Body

iStock.com/kali9
iStock.com/kali9

The human body is an amazing piece of machinery—with a few weird quirks.

  1. It’s possible to brush your teeth too aggressively. Doing so can wear down enamel and make teeth sensitive to hot and cold foods.

  2. Goose bumps evolved to make our ancestors’ hair stand up, making them appear more threatening to predators.

Woman's legs with goosebumps
iStock.com/MyetEck
  1. Wisdom teeth serve no purpose. They’re left over from hundreds of thousands of years ago. As early humans’ brains grew bigger, it reduced space in the mouth, crowding out this third set of molars.

  2. Scientists aren't exactly sure why we yawn, but it may help regulate body temperature.

  3. Your fingernails don’t actually grow after you’re dead.

  4. If they were laid end to end, all of the blood vessels in the human body would encircle the Earth four times.

  5. Humans are the only animals with chins.

    An older woman's chin
    iStock.com/mhelm3011
    1. As you breathe, most of the air is going in and out of one nostril. Every few hours, the workload shifts to the other nostril.

    2. Blood makes up about 8 percent of your total body weight.

    3. The human nose can detect about 1 trillion smells.

    4. You have two kidneys, but only one is necessary to live.

    5. Belly buttons grow special hairs to catch lint.

      A woman putting her hands in a heart shape around her belly button
      iStock.com/PeopleImages
      1. The satisfying sound of cracking your knuckles comes from gas bubbles bursting in your joints.

      2. Skin is the body’s largest organ and can comprise 15 percent of a person’s total weight.

      3. Thumbs have their own pulse.

      4. Your tongue is made up of eight interwoven muscles, similar in structure to an elephant’s trunk or an octopus’s tentacle.

      5. On a genetic level, all human beings are more than 99 percent identical.

        Identical twin baby boys in striped shirts
        iStock.com/BorupFoto
        1. The foot is one of the most ticklish parts of the body.

        2. Extraocular muscles in the eye are the body’s fastest muscles. They allow both of your eyes to flick in the same direction in a single 50-millisecond movement.

        3. A surgical procedure called a selective amygdalohippocampectomy removes half of the brain’s amygdala—and with it, the patient’s sense of fear.

        4. The pineal gland, which secretes the hormone melatonin, got its name from its shape, which resembles a pine nut.

        5. Hair grows fast—about 6 inches per year. The only thing in the body that grows faster is bone marrow.

          An African-American woman drying her hair with a towel and laughing
          iStock.com/GlobalStock
          1. No one really knows what fingerprints are for, but they might help wick water away from our hands, prevent blisters, or improve touch.

          2. The heart beats more than 3 billion times in the average human lifespan.

          3. Blushing is caused by a rush of adrenaline.

8 Facts About Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein was a multi-talented children’s author, comic artist, poet, playwright, and songwriter, and above all else, a rule-breaker. From The Giving Tree to Where the Sidewalk Ends, his titles are beloved by children and adults alike. At the time they were written, though, they defied common notions about what a "children’s" story could and should be. This isn’t all that surprising, considering that the Chicago-born author, who passed away in 1999, led a pretty unconventional life. Here are eight things you might not know about him.

1. One of Shel Silverstein's first jobs was selling hot dogs in Chicago.

Shel Silverstein didn’t always want to be a writer, or even a cartoonist or songwriter. His first love was baseball. "When I was a kid—12, 14, around there—I would much rather have been a good baseball player or a hit with the girls," he once said in an interview. "But I couldn’t play ball, I couldn’t dance. Luckily, the girls didn’t want me; not much I could do about that. So I started to draw and to write.” The closest he came to his MLB dream was when he landed a stint at Chicago’s Comiskey Park, selling hot dogs to White Sox fans.

2. Silverstein never finished college.

Silverstein was expelled from one school (the University of Illinois) and dropped out of another (the School of the Art Institute of Chicago). Finally, he managed to get through three years of the English program at Chicago's Roosevelt University, but his studies came to an abrupt end when he was drafted in 1953.

3. Silverstein was a Korean War veteran.

In the 1950s, Silverstein was drafted into the U.S. armed service. While he was stationed in Korea and Japan, he also worked as a cartoonist for the military publication Stars and Stripes. It was his first big cartooning gig. "For a guy of my age and with my limited experience to suddenly have to turn out cartoons on a day-to-day deadline deadline, the job was enormous,'' Silverstein told Stars and Stripes in a 1969 interview.

4. Silverstein worked for Playboy magazine and was Part of Hugh Hefner's inner circle.

That’s right: the lovable children’s author was on Playboy’s payroll for many years. He started drawing comics for the men’s magazine in the 1950s and ended up becoming close friends with Hugh Hefner. In fact, he often spent weeks or even months at the Playboy Mansion, where he wrote some of his books. His cartoons for the magazine proved so popular that Playboy sent him around the world to find the humor in places like London, Paris, North Africa, and Moscow during the Cold War. Perhaps his most off-color assignment, though, was visiting a nudist camp in New Jersey. These drawings were compiled in the 2007 book Playboy's Silverstein Around the World, which includes a foreword from Hefner.

5. Silverstein wrote Johnny Cash's hit song "A Boy Named Sue."

Few people know that Silverstein was a songwriter, too. One of his biggest hits was the comical tale of a boy who learned how to defend himself after being relentlessly bullied for his feminine-sounding name, Sue. The song was popularized by Johnny Cash and ended up being his top-selling single, while Silverstein was awarded a Grammy for Best Country Song. You can watch Silverstein strumming the guitar and shouting the lyrics alongside Cash on The Johnny Cash Show in the video above. Silverstein also wrote a follow-up song from the dad’s point of view, The Father of a Boy Named Sue, but it didn't take off the way the original did.

6. Silverstein is in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Three years after his death, Silverstein was inducted posthumously into this exclusive society of songwriters. He wrote more than 800 songs throughout his career, some of which were quite raunchy. But his best-known songs were performed by country legends like Loretta Lynn and Waylon Jennings. “His compositions were instantly identifiable, filled with elevated wordplay and captivating, humor-filled narratives,” the Nashville Songwriters Foundation said of Silverstein's music.

7. Silverstein wrote the first children’s book to appear on The New York Times best sellerS list.

A Light in the Attic (1981) was the first children’s book to ever make it onto the prestigious New York Times Best Sellers list. It remained there for a whopping 182 weeks, breaking all of the previous records for hardcover books at that time.

8. Silverstein wasn't a fan of happy endings.

If you couldn’t already tell by The Giving Tree’s sad conclusion, Silverstein didn’t believe in giving his stories happy endings. He felt that doing so would alienate his young readers. "The child asks why I don't have this happiness thing you're telling me about, and comes to think when his joy stops that he has failed, that it won't come back,” the author said in a 1978 interview. This turned out to be a risky move, and The Giving Tree was rejected several times for being too sad or too unconventional. Fortunately, after four years of searching for a publisher, it found a home at HarperCollins (then Harper & Row) and has gone on to become one of the best-selling—and most beloved—children's books of all time.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER