Everyday History: The Tupperware Queen

Everyday History: The Tupperware Queen

If you were to go to any American kitchen across the United States, you are bound to find we all have at least one thing in common: the big plastic bowl. The popcorn bowl. The potato salad bowl. The cookie dough bowl. And at times, sadly, the barf bowl. In every parent’s or grandparent’s kitchen we all have one, but who created this iconic kitchen necessity? Well, Tupperware did. 

Following the end of World War II, plastics were starting to emerge in the consumer market after wide ranging success in the war industry. The Poly-T (polyethylene slag) plastic was easy to create in a variety of colors as well as mold to the Wonder Bowl shape and the patented double sealed air and water tight lid. According to Smithsonian curator Shelley Nickles, the Wonder Bowl became and always has been the “linchpin of Tupperware”, and it continues to be a favorite today. When it was released in 1946, it sold for a whopping 39 cents, about $5.50 in today’s money, and while quite popular, however it didn’t sell too well in department stores. Enter Ms. Brownie Wise, female entrepreneur/original girl boss who empowered women to start selling Tupperware. As a former advice columnist, Wise saw the potential of the home selling model which demonstrated new products in people’s homes, but decided to put her own twist into the method. Let's have a party! Thus Tupperware Parties were born, where a hostess would invite friends and neighbors to demonstrate the products and receive product as a thank you in exchange for the space and customers. Putting women at the forefront of selling did wonders for the brand, “By 1949, Wonder Bowls were flying out of the hands of Wise’s sellers: one woman sold more than 56 bowls in a week”

Earl Tupper, founder and inventor of this nostalgic home brand, saw the success and potential of the homeselling model and hired Wise as the vice president of marketing, an unprecedented position for a woman, says Bob Kealing, author of Life of the Party: The Remarkable Story of How Brownie Wise Built, and Lost, a Tupperware Party Empire. Wise brought even more life to these Patio Parties, instituting games and demonstrations to support housewives in their efforts to build their customer base. Wise readily listened to her dealer's feedback and found numerous ways to support women in their entrepreneurial efforts with Tupperware, and eventually became the face of Tupperware, often appearing in business and women’s magazines. As the first woman to appear on the cover of Business Week, Wise was renowned for her business culture that she created. 


In the 1950s, as Tupperware sales soared, hitting $25 million in 1954 (more than $230 million in 2018’s money), and many new products were added to the line. As of 2017, 3.2 million people sell Tupperware from the home-based model, and the nostalgia of the Wonderlier Bowls has even made a comeback with the iconic show, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Our beloved comedienne Midge Maisel becomes Tupperware lady herself, and due to show popularity, Tupperware relaunched the iconic Wonderlier bowl set on behalf of the Amazon Prime show. Quickly selling out, a restock and further development of the Marvelous line included the Jello mold, canisters, and much more. 

Check out our Tupperware inspired products to capture the nostalgia and #girlboss inspiration that these pieces embody.  


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