Background and Invention


Earl Tupper, has a last name that is commonly known as a type of food storage today. But how did he get to be that way?

Prior to the invention of Tupperware, most households would use Mason Jars, Pyrex dishes or even oval wooden shakers. While the wooden shakers are not nearly as popular today, many people do still use Pyrex and Mason Jar products.

Earl Tupper created his own company, The Earl S. Tupper Company, after spending some time working at DuPont which was a plastics manufacturing company at the time.1 Tupper worked on and developed plastics that were used during the WW2 era, however selling his products became extremely difficult. Tupper’s marketing techniques were not beneficial to his sales numbers. Many of the plastics that he created were able to be used in the kitchen because of their airtight and watertight lids but even these qualities didn’t help his sales numbers.2   

Because sales were so low, Tupper decided to change the way in which the product was marketed. Instead of having it solely in stores, Tupper also had his product, Tupperware, demonstrated in home parties. This was done with the help of Brownie Wise.3 Brownie Wise was instrumental in the sales numbers for the Tupperware company.

Brownie Wise was working for another company at the time that Earl Tupper was trying to market his product. Wise was a phenomenal saleswoman and took the initiative to call Tupper and ask to be involved in the selling process. Without her, who knows if the product would have been as successful as it has been.


1. [Bob Kealing, Tupperware Unsealed: Brownie Wise, Earl Tupper, and the Home Party Pioneers. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2008, 11.]
2. [Ibid, 9.]
3. [Ibid, 18]


Tupperware was invented in 1945 by Earl S. Tupper. Although it was made of plastic, other plastics at the time were not as durable. However, Tupper’s product was different  due to its practical use in the kitchen setting and that is what has helped it to be so successful  both back then and today.1The air tight lid was something that other options at the time could not offer. While Mason Jars did have a vacuum seal, it was only practical for canning foods. Tupperware had an air tight seal that was practical for all types of food. This is was aided in its selection process.While the invention of Tupperware itself was notable, the way in which it was marketed is also something that is worth noting. Brownie Wise, who later became Vice President of Tupper’s company, was extremely influential in Tupperware sales, especially to housewives. Home parties were around at the time, but Wise’s selling tactics were revolutionary.2  She had previously been working for another company and called Tupper to tell him that she was the woman for the job and that she was fully capable of marketing his product.Brownie Wise was very aware of the demographic that would be interested in purchasing Tupper’s product. She knew that her time was best used by having home parties catered to women of the household. Due to her selling techniques, women quickly adopted Tupperware as an item that was essential to their kitchens.Tupperware has had a lasting impact because it is still so commonly used and has incredible name recognition. Other companies such as Glad, Ziploc and Rubbermaid all make essentially the same product, and yet the general population refers to all of those brands as Tupperware.  Because it is plastic and washable, it was extremely popular for husbands to take lunches in  Tupperware when they were heading to work. Here at the Mary Washington campus dining hall, the to-go boxes are made out of plastic with an air tight lid. Not only does it keep food safe and secure, it is also sustainable. This just goes to show the impact that it has had on society and cultural vernacular.


1. [Tupperware Brands Corporation, “Heritage.” Tupperware Brands.]
2. [Tupperware Brands Corporation, “Heritage.” Tupperware Brands.]