Silas Tupper : Inventor of Tupperware
Tupperware (plastic container with
airtight lid) was invented by Earl Silas Tupper (1908-1983). Tupper was
a New Hampshire tree surgeon and plastics innovator, who began experimenting
with polyethylene, a new material used primarily for insulation, radar,
and radio equipment. He patented the Tupperware seal in 1947. Tupper used
"Tupperware Parties" to market the product, a unique way of marketing directly
Tupper was born in 1907 in Berlin, New Hampshire. Tupper’s first contact
with plastic grew from his job at the DuPont Chemical Company which had
been developing plastic before World War II. Eager to work with the new
material, yet too poor to buy refined plastic, Tupper asked if he could
purchase any left-over substance. His supervisor at DuPont gave him a black,
inflexible piece of polyethylene slag, a waste product of the oil refining
process. Tupper purified the slag and molded it to create light-weight,
non-breakable containers, cups, bowls, and plates. He later designed liquid-proof,
air-tight lids by duplicating the lid of a paint can, except in reverse.
Tupper founded the Tupperware Plastics Company in 1938, and in 1946, he
introduced Tupper Plastics to hardware and department stores.
was not welcome at first. Consumers were confused as to how to operate
the lids. Store sales lagged. In the late forties, home demonstrations
of the products proved enormously successful, indicating to Tupper the
potential power of direct demonstrations. By 1951, he had pulled all merchandise
off store shelves and channeled it solely through direct home sales. Tupper
hired Brownie Wise, a charismatic single mother and one of his first direct
sellers, to design the Tupperware; direct selling system. The concept grew
to be a household phenomenon, the Tupperware Party.
Today, a Tupperware
demonstration begins approximately every two seconds some place in the
world with yearly net sales exceeding $1.2 billion.
Silas Tupper Papers
Ca. 1914-1982, documenting the inventor
Tupper and his invention Tupperware.
The official website of the company.
Tupper - Tupperware
By a two-step process of invention,
Earl S. Tupper created one of the most practical items of Americana to
date: the airtight plastic food container that still bears his name.
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