Proposals and Group Roles


Emily James, Yousef Nasser, Nicole Spreeman, and Emma Baumgardner


Tupperware is a common household item today, however in the mid-1900s this was not the case. The concept of an air-tight, plastic container to hold food was revolutionary. Prior to the use of Tupperware, most households would store their food in refrigerator dishes. While these dishes contained the food, they did not do a great job of preserving it. Another alternative was to wrap foods in tea towels, can them using mason jars, or use oval wooden shakers. While all of these were considered to be antecedents to Earl Tupper’s Tupperware, they were still possible alternatives for those who did not want to incorporate Tupperware into their cooking.

Tupperware was also revolutionary in its marketing strategies. Prior to how Tupperware was sold, women would go door to door selling products. For instance, department stores held separate sections for women to shop their feminine hygiene products. (i)  Before World War II women went door to door to women in lower socio-economic backgrounds selling “feminine hygiene” also known as birth control. (ii) 

Earl Tupper worked as a subcontractor for DuPont producing plastics for WWII in the 1940s. Following the war, he decided that he wanted to develop a commercial plastic product and bring it to market. In 1947, Tupper invented two products, a plastic container and an airtight lid. These products were shatterproof and made it possible to store and preserve food. Together, these products became known Tupperware (iii). 

Originally, Earl Tupper opted to sell his product in stores, however, he was largely unsuccessful. When Tupperware adopted Brownie Wise’s strategies of hosting parties, his business largely took off. Brownie Wise hosted Tupperware parties which allowed women to sell and be entrepreneurs from the convenience of their own homes iii.  Tupperware was a gendered product because women sold the product to other women. After World War II, middle class women became the consumer because they were expected to maintain the home iv. Women became the technological consumers because of the gender roles at the time. Women could sell products from their own homes to other women which kept the “separate spheres” intact v. 

The basic structure of our project blog will include a variety of media sources. These sources include primary source photographs, videos, and advertisements. We will also mention secondary source material including biographies, scholarly articles, and more. The blog will have more of a visual appeal in the sense that most of the focus will be placed on photographs. Most of these photographs are coming from the National Archives or Smithsonian archives with proper citation. There will also be separate tabs for different parts of the project. These tabs include antecedents, alternatives, history of Tupperware, the impact of Tupperware, and sources. There will also be a separate tab with our documentary posted on it.

Our documentary will be in the the style of a mockumentary, We are going to sensationalize Tupperware by poking fun at it. Inspiration for this idea comes from commercials where someone is looking for the lid to their Tupperware and they open a cabinet and all of their Tupperware comes crashing down. The theme of our mockumentary will have a 50’s styled appeal, this includes dress, speech, and gender roles. One of us is going to narrate the scenario while the other three are acting. Yousef will play Earl Tupper, one of the three girls will play Brownie Wise, and the other two will play women at a Tupperware party asking questions about the product. This mockumentary will talk about the invention of Tupperware, how women were able to make money, and the way it was marketed at parties. We will be using many digital technological sources in order to make our documentary, these include a green screen, digital camera, final cut pro X, and YouTube to upload it.

We chose to do our project on Tupperware because it is a relevant 20th century product with a unique backstory that lends well to presenting in a documentary format. Tupperware is something that we all still use today without thinking critically about where it came from and why it was invented. As a group, we want to shed light on its origins and describe its importance as a piece of American technology.

i. Andrea Tone, “Contraceptive Consumers: Gender and the Political Economy of Birth Control in the 1930s.” Journal of Social History 29, no. 3 (Spring 1996), p 485-506.

ii.  Christina E. Bax, “ENTREPRENEUR BROWNIE WISE*: Selling Tupperware to America’s Women in the 1950s.” Journal of Women’s History 22, no. 2 (Summer, 2010): 171-180,215.

iii.  Ibid, 171.

iv.  Susan Ostrander,“Women at Work: Tupperware, Passion Parties, and Beyond.” Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews 41, no. 2 (2012): 246.

v. Ibid, 247.


Works Cited

Secondary Sources

Ascher, Carol, “Evening Out,” Feminist Studies 6, no. 2 (1980): 321-29.

This source is a short fiction piece from a feminist studies journal that provides tremendous detail about what Tupperware parties were like. The source includes specific information such as the demographics of the guests, the type of attire that they wore, the layout of the room where the party was and the type of dialogue that was used. We believe that this will be a big help in the development of our mockumentary.

Bax, Christina E, “ENTREPRENEUR BROWNIE WISE*: Selling Tupperware to America’s Women in the 1950s,” Journal of Women’s History 22, no. 2 (Summer, 2010): 171-180, 215.

This is an important source because it details the influence of Brownie Wise, the marketing strategist who helped inventor Earl Tupper market and sell his product to women by hosting Tupperware parties.

Clarke, Alison J, Tupperware : The Promise of Plastic in 1950s America, Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1999.

Clarke looks critically at marketing strategies along with the dawn of plastic after World War II. Specifically, Clarke looks at Tupperware’s marketing strategies, using women to sell directly, along with gendering of Tupperware.

Ellias, Diane, “The Tupperware Party,” The North American Review 274, no. 2 (1989): 23-27.

This is a short story that serves as an interesting source because it lends unique insight into what a Tupperware party might have looked like as well as the role that storytelling games may have played in selling the product.

Friedman, Andrea, “The Politics of Consumption: Women and Consumer Culture,” Journal of Women’s History 13, no. 2 (2001): 159-68.

Friedman analyzes how women became the prime selling target after World War II because of the emphasis on domestic-life and technology.

Gidlow, Liette, “The Deeper Meaning of Tupperware: Consumer Culture and the American Home,” Journal of Women’s History 24, no. 3 (Fall, 2012): 195-203, 205.

This book review examines three books that help paint a picture of the state of consumerism and domesticity in the early 20th century. This provides a lens through which we can understand how Brownie Wise was able to be successful and the significance of her impact on consumer culture.

Kealing, Bob, Life of the Party: The Remarkable Story of How Brownie Wise Built, and Lost, a Tupperware Party Empire, South Melbourne: 2016.

This source summarizes how Brownie Wise was able to make Tupperware such a huge success through the use of Tupperware parties. It also talks about how Earl Tupper mysteriously fired her from the company and erased her from the success story for reasons unknown. It is important because it depicts the dynamics that were involved behind the scenes with Tupperware’s main actors.

Ostrander, Susan A, “Women at Work: Tupperware, Passion Parties, and Beyond,” Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews 41, no. 2 (2012): 246-47.

In this article she reviews books surrounding Tupperware parties. Specifically she links Tupperware parties as a bridging factor between the private (feminine) and public (male-dominated) sphere in the economic realm.

Tone, Andrea, “Contraceptive Consumers: Gender and the Political Economy of Birth Control in the 1930s,” Journal of Social History 29, no. 3 (1996): 485-506.

This is a relevant source because it serves as a point of reference as to how products like oral contraceptives were marketed to women. Our project will focus on how Tupperware was marketed to women at Tupperware parties, but we find that it is useful to have a reference point as a tool for comparing marketing strategies to a specific demographic.

Vincent, Susan, “Preserving Domesticity: Reading Tupperware in Women’s Changing Domestic, Social and Economic Roles,*” Canadian Review of Sociology/Revue Canadienne De Sociologie 40, no. 2 (2003): 171-196.

This source explores how inherent domestic femininity used in the marketing of Tupperware has manifested itself in the manner in which we perceive gender roles today.

Primary Sources

Brownie Wise Papers, 1938-1968, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. AC0509-0000003.

This photograph was taken at one of Brownie Wise’s Tupperware parties. It shows how this type of marketing was done by predominantly women. It is important because Tupperware allowed women to make the domestic space a place where they could profit.

“Catalog Advertisement” scanned advertisement. Brownie Wise Papers, National Museum of American History Archives Center, circa 1949-1966. AC0509-0000066.

This is an magazine advertisement geared towards women. Specifically, it answers women’s’ questions about Tupperware home parties to advertise them.

“Earl Tupper and Brownie Wise at the Tupperware factory in Farnumsville, Massachusetts,” 1951, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

This is a photograph of Brownie Wise and Earl Tupper in the Tupperware factory. In this image, they both appear happy. In reality, they have a very complex relationship which ended badly.

Tupper, Earl. Open mouth container and non-snap type of closure. US Patent 2487400 filed June 2, 1947, and issued November 8, 1949.

This is the original scanned patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This patent shows that Earl Tupper, soon after WWII used plastic to create these air-tight containers.

“Tupperware Price and Order Form,” scanned document. Brownie Wise Papers, National Museum of American History Archives Center. Circa 1951-1959.

This is a scanned order form used at Tupperware home parties to order Tupperware.





Skeleton Outline

  • Proposals and Outline

Under this tab we will post our project proposal as well as our skeleton outline for the website and documentary

  • Antecedents

Here we will list the antecedents that were used before Tupperware was invented,  we will also be posting corresponding images so that viewers can see what the available items looked like.

Storage Antecedents:

  • Mason Jars
  • Pyrex (glass)
  • Glassware
  • Oval wooden shakers

Marketing Antecedents:

  • Department stores salesmen (women)
  • Door to Door salesmen (birth control)
  • Home parties (Brownie Wise, Stanley)

History of Tupperware

  1. This section will talk about how Earl Tupper invented tupperware while he was making plastic products for the war. Although he had his products sold in stores and in house parties, his sales were not taking off and he was struggling to turn a profit.
  2. This section will also discuss Brownie Wise, how she became involved with Tupperware and her impact on tupperware sales and beyond. Brownie Wise, currently selling products for Stanley Home Products and wanted to help Tupperware by increasing sales in the home. She was later promoted to VP of the Tupperware company.
  • Impact of Tupperware
  1. This section will discuss how Brownie’s home parties revolutionized sales, and empowered women to be entrepreneurs while working from home. 
  2. It will also discuss the impact that it has had on competing brands as well as how Tupperware has become a common household name for a product, even if they are a different brand.
  3. Endorsed gender stereotypes by maintaining home space as a place for women, even though women could profit off of it.
  • Documentary

Here we will post our mockumentary and the sources we used to produce it.



  • Marketing: birth control during 1930s
  • Brownie Wise marketing,
  • Glass-precursor
  • Plastics: After WWII

-Tupperware’s Evolution and Origin

  • Tupper’s initial idea: playing with plastic
  • Meet with Brownie Wise=TUPPERWARE PARTIES.

Documentary outline:

  • Time frame: 10-15 minutes
  • Yousef- Earl Tupper, narrator
  • Emma- Brownie Wise
  • Emily and Nicole- women at a Tupperware party
  • 1950s era style and dress
  • Mockumentary begins with Earl Tupper (a DuPont employee) tries to create a product with plastic
  • Eventually creates Tupperware bowl and lid
  • Struggles to sell product
  • Mockumentary will show Tupper’s failed attempts to market and sell product
  • Brownie Wise notices that Tupperware was not selling at department stores
  • Brownie Wise and Earl Tupper meet on Tinder (maybe)
  • Meets Brownie Wise
  • She comes up with innovative way to sell Tupperware: Tupperware parties
  • Mockumentary demonstrates Wise marketing Tupperware to women at parties
  • Emma, Emily and/or Nicole bring up antecedents (ie glassware)
  • Ex: “My food has gone bad!”; “My glass container broke AGAIN!”
  • Wise also discusses how becoming a Tupperware entrepreneur is the best way for women to make money without
  • A jealous Tupper grows resentful of Wise, confronts her and fires her after a year
  • Flash-forward to modern age: Tupperware is a staple in kitchens across the country
  • Talk about other products that have been influenced by tupperware or direct sales
  • Companies like Glad and Pyrex enter the market and create their own “food storage containers”
  • Talk about how even brands that aren’t technically tupperware (glad, ziploc, rubbermaid) people still refer to it as tupperware (common household name)  
  • Impact of tupperware: flash forward to a present day kitchen with tupperware
  • Emily and Nicole talk about how Tupperware is overlooked in our society
  • Ex: “We take Tupperware for granted.”; “What would we ever do without Tupperware?”
  • Ghosts of Tupper and Wise proudly reflect on their contributions (maybe)

List of media (image, videos, etc.):

Iconic image:

Steinmetz, Joe, photographer. “[Tupperware advertisement featuring a Joe Steinmetz photograph.]” Photograph. C1958. From State Library and Archives of Florida. (accessed March 16, 2017).

Pictures and advertisements:

Brownie Wise Papers, 1938-1968, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. AC0509-0000003

Catalog Advertisement” scanned advertisement. Brownie Wise Papers, National Museum of American History Archives Center, circa 1949-1966. AC0509-0000066. .

“Earl Tupper and Brownie Wise at the Tupperware factory in Farnumsville, Massachusetts,” 1951, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

Tupper, Earl. Open mouth container and nonsnap type of closure. US Patent 2487400 filed June 2, 1947, and issued November 8, 1949.

“Tupperware Price and Order Form,” scanned document. Brownie Wise Papers, National Museum of American History Archives Center. Circa 1951-1959.

Antecedent pictures:

TwoScarsUp, photographer “[Glass canisters made by Sneath Glass Company for Hoosier Cabinets.]” Photograph. c2008.  From wikipedia commons. (accessed March 16, 2017).

Wycoff, Carl. “[Images of items found at the Shake Village at Pleasant Hill.]” Photograph. Nevada, USA. c2009.From The Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill. (accessed March 16, 2017).

“Look at What All She Got for Christmas!” Better Homes and Garden, 1958, advertisement. “Saltycotton,” Flickrcommons, taken 2010.

“[Unidentified stacks of home-canned food.]” Photograph. From Library of Congress: World War, 1939-1945 Home food processing United States. Transparencies– Color. (accessed March 16, 2017).

YouTube advertisements:

“The Tupperware Party – The Product & Its Many Home Uses – Storage to Gifts – 1950’s,” Historia – Bel99TV, 2013.

Tupperware television commercial for their 10th anniversary,” Jeff Quitney, advertisement, 2016.


Group Roles for Website:

Emily- Antecedents about marketing and the impact of marketing techniques that were used by Brownie Wise

Yousef- Tupperware’s impact in the home and with food storage

Emma- History of Tupperware

Nicole- Antecedents for food storage

Group Roles for Documentary:

In regards to the documentary, because all of us are playing acting roles in the film, we are planning on rotating camera operator and on-camera roles depending on which scene we are filming.

Below is a complete list of group roles for the project:

Emily- Director, actress (Tupperware party guest), camera operator, research

Yousef- Video editor, actor (Earl Tupper), camera operator, research

Emma- Screenwriter (narrative), actress (Brownie Wise), camera operator, research

Nicole- Screenwriter (humor), actress (Tupperware party guest), camera operator, research