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If you are of a certain age you know all about Tupperware. It was as 70s as K-Tel, David Cassidy and flares. Just as you younger ones have Anne Summers parties, where giggling women paw and fondle plastic tubes and colorful pots, our mums and sisters had Tupperware parties, an innocent version of the later. This was brilliant marketing by the American company where women were empowered to sell other women plastic cooking containers at little get-togethers for commission and feel much better for it, when, in fact, they were simply tying themselves tighter to female stereotypes and the kitchen. Unlike the owners of the products, Tupperware offered a lifelong guarantee on their kit, proper hand me down stuff, as was everything in the 1970s.
The key to the success of Tupperware was it was colorful and both kids and parents loved it. With its bespoke re-sealable lids it was unique at the time. I guarantee anyone over 35 will have had a favorite Tupperware cereal dish or mug as a kid and it would also have burn marks on it when it, and you, flirted with the hotplate. Tupperware was strictly for salads and storage, huge in the developing world right now because of. Today the Tupperware range has become a retro relic of the 1970s in the west, like the Sodastream, a token newer version knocking around in the Argos catalogue just to keep the brand going. The rise of the pound shop simply killed off the need to buy in bulk matching plastic containers and so Tupperware mostly sell memories now. In 2003 they closed down in the United Kingdom as customers lost interest in the doorstep direct sales method, resigned to history with the Avon Lady and The Church of the Later Day Saints, hopefully joined by Betterware one day soon. 10 years later they tried to relaunch it with the rise of internet sales, perfectly suited to the brand, but cancelled it at the last after hiring staff.
You can still buy limited Tupperware stuff (the company now known as Tupperware Brands) in the United Kingdom on US license and they now do a glass and metal lines of kitchenware, Pyrex style, and a rather neat collapsible plastic range, great for camping and holidays. They have also pushed the female angle and sell cosmetics on their website. If someone like Nigella Lawson or Jamie Oliver bought into this company they could really shift some gear here. But as of yet you will only really find their wares in warehouse stores and cut price places, the chain stores not that bothered either way. It's just a sadly missed simple and colorful and easy to use practical product, many of our mums still having some of it in our cupboards leftover from the 1970s and still doing the job. My mum has her sugar and flower still in them, with labels. Even the original lids are still on.
The advantage of Tupperware is they do last forever and have those re-sealable tops, a Godsend for mums. Blokes don't bother to understand the chemistry of fresh food and the kitchen and so don't realize what's going on with all those labeled containers and jars. I recall Michael McIntyre did a funny sketch on the redundant spices and jars in the condiment cupboard and Tupperware was mentioned. Either way its bloody good stuff and shame it's so hard to find these days.
This review is about one of my great loves in life- almighty Tupperware! Now as a man of limited culinary skills, I tend to cook all my meals at the beginning of the week and freeze them if my mother is away so that I have a good hot dinner that I can just reheat in the microwave, so I have been relying on the amazing brand of Tupperware for some time now, after having some disappointing experiences to say the least (including an exploding microwave!) with lesser products. This review is about my ten or so years' experience with the famous products.
::::: The product :::::
Well, as most people know, Tupperware is not just one product, but a whole range of serving, presentation, storage and food preparation products that originated in the mid-20th century. My main experience has been had with their different sized re-sealable containers that are sold in a variety of styles and materials generally used for storing food stuffs. The main source of sales for Tupperware products is still to this day through "Tupperware Parties", where a group of people will gather to see demonstrations of the products and buy what they need. These parties originated in the 1950's and proved a big force behind women's liberation, allowing stay-at-home wives of the 50's the chance to contribute to the household income while still being seen to be "proper". Just another reason me and my mother love the Tupperware brand. I have read before that the gender-specific nature of Tupperware as a brand further domesticizes women, but I think that for women of the fifties this was of the least concern- at least it was a step in the right direction!
::::: The Effect :::::
Around 10 years ago when my mother had to start leaving home for weeks at a time to visit my father who works abroad, I was forced to find a way of feeding myself on my busy schedule. I have a very high pressure job and often work far in to the night, so it has always been useful living at home and having my mother happy to prepare meals for me, but at the times when she goes abroad I have to prepare in advance.
In the beginning, I visited pound stretcher and discovered re-sealable, microwaveable and freezable plastic containers that I thought would be good for storing food stuffs in. I prepared all my main meals at the weekend and stored them in the freezer to be microwaved and enjoyed at a later date. These containers lasted me only one use, as they were flimsy and broke due to the fluctuations in heat I was subjecting them to..... I also found them to absorb the colour of whatever food I stored in them which was much less than appetising.
On my mother's return, I asked her advice, and she pointed me in the direction of Tupperware. As a party frequenter herself, although mainly for serve-wear, she offered to buy me some containers at her next gathering. I must note, she never hosts these parties, only attends, as she takes her retirement very seriously. Before long I was presented with a rather smart set of "Vent n' serve" containers which were made of a very sturdy plastic. I have had these containers for around 7 years now, and am still using them to this day with no problems. I did have one of the vents break on one occasion, but that was due to my clumsiness rather than any manufacturing fault.
::::: The Price:::::
A full set of Vent n' Serve dishes set me and my mother back around £150 if I remember correctly, but as a long term investment I believe this is really quite good. Tupperware is very expensive in general, but I believe there is no comparison in range, quality and durability anywhere else for cheaper on the market.
::::: My Opinions :::::
I would recommend Tupperware to anybody who takes there food storage seriously, and my mother tells me they have a brilliant range of serve-wear that has lasted her a long time. Never have either of us bought a Tupperware product that we've had to replace- these things are almost indestructible! What's more, when you're buying Tupperware, you're buying a piece of the working woman's history and not much compares to that.
I first went to a Tupperware party probably about 20 years ago. My mum and grandma were both fans of the storage items and I guess that rubbed off on me too as I believe they are the best storage containers you can buy.
According to an article I read, Tupperware is the name of a home products line that includes preparation, storage, containment, and serving products for the kitchen and home, which were first introduced to the public in 1946.
Tupperware develops, manufactures, and internationally distributes its products by as a wholly owned subsidiary of its parent companyTupperware Brands Corporation and it is marketed by means of direct sales through an independent sales force of approximately 1.9 million consultants.
I own so much Tupperware its silly but it really is such a great quality product. All the lids are interchangeable so as long as the container beneath is the same size you can use the different lids. The lids have a little press circle in the middle of them which once the lid is applied gives the container an airtight close to them which is a really nice advantage of these containers. I keep meats and cheese in them in the fridge and to have the airtight feature is great because the food really does stay fresher for longer. When you open one of the containers you really have to pull up at the side as you feel the air releasing from the container.
Now, in America I believe Tupperware still have a life time guarantee. In England Tupperware have a 10 year guarantee which for a plastic container is really a great advantage and to be honest I don't think I have ever needed to send something back. What I like about Tupperware is that the lids never bend or get out of shape like some other plastic container lids do.
Best tupperware items I own:
A grapefruit container which is shaped like half a grapefruit so you can store the other half of a cut grapefruit for breakfast the next day, a very handy but very simple idea.
Cake container which has a solid base with side handles and then plastic cover which gives you a lot of room so you can make site a high cake and not have to worry about the icing rubbing off on the top of the container.
A small little pill box which has a keyring attachment to it. The pill box is round and has a plastic lid not he top and is perfect for carrying around extra paracetamol, etc.
I suspect there are few of us oldies who haven't got at least some original Tupperware items in their house.
Tupperware heralded a whole stream of products which were initially sold at 'parties' organised by agents up and down the country.
We all remember the recent revelation that The Queen keeps her cereals in Tupperware containers. I wonder which agent phoned her up to ask her to host a Tupperware party?
These days there are so many alternatives to good old fashioned Tupperware, that sales are not what they were. Most of our plastic containers are old curry trays that are now in common use by takeaway outlets. Also, slightly less robust are the plastic sweetie tubs that are found so frequently.
In our house, we still have two Tupperware containers in regular use. They are both cereal containers - one now used for wild bird seed and one for fish food for our outdoor pond.
What differentiates Tupperware from other similar products is its thickness and durability. Many dooyooers have raved about their Pyrex ware which last and lasts. Tupperware is to plastic storage what Pyrex is to toughened glass. I have never known an item of Tupperware to wear out. This is testament to the quality of materials used. After all the years, the plastic has become a bit discoloured and there are a few scratches, yet it is still perfectly fit for purpose.
You can stlll find old Tupperware around at boot fairs and the like. Even if you can no longer find a Tupperware agent in your area to host your own party, this second hand Tupperware will prove to be a good investment. You should have a sniff first to make sure it hasn't been contaminated by having had strongly smelling product stored in it.
A gentleman called Mr Earl Tupper started the legend that became Tupperware in 1946.
Tupperware was everywhere in the 1970s and no household in the land would be without at least one piece of the 'collection'. Tupperware parties were held in homes all around the country and not a week would go by without an invitation to at least one.
I started running my own home in the seventies and, although I appreciated the quality and inventiveness of Tupperware, I found it very expensive because I was on a limited income. I found myself resenting being asked to parties and, if I could find no reason not to attend, I would scour the price list for the cheapest product. After all, you could find products that would do the same job for much lower prices in the shops; they may not last as long nor be of the same high quality but that doesn't matter when you are having to stretch the budget.
One of the best things that Tupperware ever produced was the toddler's Shaper Ball (I may have got the name wrong - my toddlers are now fully-grown adults), a colourful round ball made of tough plastic that had cut out shapes into which matching shaped pieces made of yellow plastic could be inserted. This was very educational and helped with a child's co-ordination and dexterity. These toys could be found in most homes. It was fairly inexpensive for what it was and was one of the products I did not mind paying for.
A lot of Tupperware products have very twee names that are obviously aimed at the American market; here in the UK I remember we found them sickly and silly. The products themselves were very very good and extremely useful, though.
I do have one main gripe with Tupperware which concerns their returns policy. They boast that they will replace any item should it deteriorate or fail to fit its purpose. Some years ago I put this policy to the test. A few years before, I had purchased a Salad Crisper which was designed to store a lettuce in the fridge and keep it crisp for longer than if it was just stored on a shelf. After a while, the plastic began to peel off inside the bowl and I stopped using it because I did not want to find pieces of it in my food. As it happens, a neighbour invited me to a Tupperware party and I told the demonstrator that I was unhappy with the Salad Crisper and would like it to be replaced. She said that she would take it back and that I could choose a product for the value of the Crisper at the time I had originally purchased it. I had paid £3 for it but, by the time it needed replacing, it had increased in price to around £7. I had to choose something I had no use for from the catalogue for £3, despite reminding her that Tupperware's policy was to replace a faulty item. From then on, I decided I would not be bothering with Tupperware any more. They have made millions of pounds from customers, in some cases customers who have felt obliged to buy, and they do not honour their returns policy. This is the least they could and should do.
To put things in context, I have to admit to being brought up in the seventies. My mother went to Tupperware parties, and we used Tupperware on a regular basis (remember this bit of info for later one).
In the 1960s and 1970s there was no serious alternative to Tupperware products. None of the alternative (cheaper) brands did the job - and as a child that mainly meant anything except for Tupperware leaked in your lunchbox during school trips. It wasn't cool, but it worked.
In the 1980s, I started going to parties,myself and soon got hooked. I even became a Tupperware lady myself for a little while. Being in full-time work, I had the money to spend, and quickly filled my cupboards with lots of lovely Space Savers and my freezer with the blue-lidded Freezer Boxes. No more bags of sugar and currants clippes shut with an old clothes peg for me! I learnt all about Earl Tupper and the little picture of a seal you got on the original 1960s lids, and practised burp-sealing my round Tupperware for an airtight and liquid-tight seal. Fab!
Much of the Tupperware got pushed to the back of the cupboards until the dawn of hte 1990s when I became a mum. Gosh, did I need Tupperware then! All those tiny little freezer pots that seemed so useless to a single girl now came in handy! Tiny portions of baby food got mashed and stored away for baby consumption. Brightly-coloured bowls and cups came out for toddler tantrum days and visiting friends.
The real fun came on high days and holidays.. Birthday parties had never been so much fun. Prepared and stored in Tupperware, all my children's party food got served in Tupperware too! By this time I was an agent again, collecting freebies left right and centre. Serving dishes, jelly moulds and cake stands were in constant use. Tupperware staretd to produce some fab colours as well, so Fridge Mates and Exclusive bowls got added to my collection.
I can't move on without mentioning the toys. Weren't they great? I think the most fun I had with them was at the Tupperware Lady Meetings. We used to have timed races to put all the shapes into the balls and see how much weight we could load onto the back of the truck.Ah - those were the days. Sometimes we even let the children play with them....
Come the noughties, my Tupperware stock has dwindled. Some has been passed to my mother (remember her?) who was pleased to have new items to add to her cupboards and also to have some of her old items replaced under their lifetime guarantee (which has now been reduced to 10 yrs). My store cupboard ingredients are still all stored in Tupperware, keeping them fresh and in place, and my freezer is stocked with matching stackable rectangles. The only things I don't use are the 'weird' stuff like the steamer. The toys are all packed away for when the grandchildren come.
I love my Tupperware and wouldn't be without it. Even though there are equally good alternatives out there today, I still love the shapes, colours and versatility of Tupperware. Hooray for Earl Tupper!
When I first wrote this review, the US Tupperware web page stated, "it all started with a bowl". Mr. Earl Tupper wanted to make food containers that would keep foods fresh longer. His idea was to make plastic covered bowls using - of all things - the simple the technology of an upside down a can of paint. He succeeded in his quest and since 1946 has constantly grown and expanded to sell his products worldwide.
OK, so what exactly is Tupperware? Tupperware, as I already noted, started out with a bowl. Over the years, the line of the products available have increased and expanded. Tupperware isn't just "a bowl" anymore. The products produced by Tupperware today are in three basic categories - storage, freezing and microwave. They also have stuff for food preparation, cooking tools and utensils as well as a line of products for kids.
Here's a brief overview of the categories of products:
Storage items - these are those pieces that can be placed on your kitchen shelves, counters or for serving. Most of these items are made to be airtight for freshness. More importantly, many of the storage items are modular in shape. This means they stack neatly or fit closely next to one another on your shelves. I have one cupboard that holds just my Tupperware storage boxes. In that cupboard I keep: 1kg cornflakes, 1kg of brown sugar, 1kg of quinoa, 1kg of rolled oats, 1kg of oat bran, 1kg of white sugar, 1kg of rice, 500gr of popcorn, 500gr of dried mushrooms and dried tomatoes, 250gr of powdered sugar, 250gr of sesame seeds, and 1kg of dark whole wheat flour and 4kg of light whole wheat flour. That's almost 14kg of food in one 60cm wide cupboard, and I still have room for more! Let's not even mention their spice containers that keep spices fresh for ages and ages.
Many of these containers have flip top openings in their covers. This makes it easier to take the contents out of the containers. Some also have special openings - like the spice containers, for instance, which have holes so you can sprinkle the item into the food you are preparing.
Freezer items are just that - containers that will withstand the cold of your freezer without breaking, cracking or warping. Some can even be put in the microwave on defrost - but not all are meant for cooking in. Included in this category are also the items for your fridge. Again, these items can be put in your microwave on defrost or warm, but shouldn't be on higher heat for cooking with. Some of these items can be so attractive that they will look good on your table as well. For instance, they have cake servers and salad sets that come in different colors and are perfect for taking to potluck gatherings or picnics.
The newest items to the Tupperware catalogue are the microwave items - some of which can not only go just in the microwave, but also go in the fridge, freezer and even in the oven! I have to say that these are the absolute best things that they've ever come up with. I spent a huge amount of money (well, for me it seemed like a lot, and my husband was furious with me) for their 2liter round covered microwave bowl. This pretty baby can be used in the fridge, in the freezer, as well as in both the microwave and oven for cooking! My husband asked at the time "what are you going to use it for" and he's literally eaten his words since then. Why? Because I've used it at least once a single week since I bought it. Sometimes I cook something in it, sometimes my kids warm something up in it, and I've even used it to warm up a large amount of soup quickly in the oven. If there's something I want to prepare in advance, I can cook it in this and then put it in the fridge or freezer until I'm ready to heat and serve it. I cannot tell you how useful this item is. With all the use I've made of it over the past two years (including using it with tomato based sauces) it looks exactly as it did when I bought it. Not a stain or a scratch on it. It cleans up like a dream, either by hand or in the dishwasher.
The other items such as the kids' lines are mostly serving and storage items but are made in colours that kids will find attractive. They also have utensils and preparation tools such as cutting knives, quick choppers, garlic presses, can openers, rolling pins, cutting boards, lettuce spinners and much more.
OK, so that's an overview of the products. But what are the advantages and disadvantages to these items?
Advantages - aside from what I've already mentioned about the products usefulness, there are a few other things you should know about Tupperware. Firstly, there is a lifetime guarantee on these products. That means that if you use them properly (important to remember that), and anything goes wrong, they will be replaced FREE. But I'm sure that the company doesn't have this happen much because another advantage is that these items are really, really strong. I've had only one plastic top crack on me in the over 30 years that I've been buying Tupperware. Trust me, I'm not easy on these items and don't treat them like they're glass. In fact, almost all of the Tupperware I have, when not in use, is in an unlocked place where kids can get into it. For many years when my kids were small, I used that cupboard as my "kids area" of the kitchen. When they wanted to play "like mummy" they knew they could go in there and pull out whatever they wanted and bang, slap, crash and smash away.
Another advantage is that you can always find a piece of Tupperware for your personal needs, and they're always finding and making new sizes and coming out with new ideas. Besides that, Tupperware isn't just for the kitchen. I have one box that holds my sewing things, another for small screws and nails, so Tupperware is also versatile.
Disadvantages - the most obvious drawback is that these are not cheap by a long shot. In fact, one would find many (if not all) of these items to seem to be unreasonably expensive compared to the stuff you can find on your local supermarket shelves or in some house ware shop. I can hardly argue with this, but one might say that the Lifetime Guarantee does make this easier to swallow. Still, I know sometimes people aren't willing to shell out that much money for "just a plastic container". Understandable.
Also, these items are not sold in any stores, nor are they available to purchase on-line (in the UK). No, you have to find a distributor to sell these items to you. And, the problem with the distributor is that they always want you to have a Tupperware Party. Well, I've avoided having one in my house so far, but I can tell you that I've been to many of these parties in my lifetime. While they are fun and interesting, the distributor is often pushy. Why wouldn't she be? Its how she makes a living, right? Still, I have my friend who sells me what I want, and I really don't like the hard sale. If you can find a distributor who will be like that for you, I'm sure you'll want to buy more Tupperware from them. I guess they never think of that in their training classes, do they?
Finally, the biggest drawback of them all is losing the covers. Yes covers on these items will get lost, I promise you. They will get thrown out somehow because you just don't see them, or just get misplaced between use and storage. Then you have to go and buy replacement covers, and that's a bit of a pain. I've done my best over the years to try to keep this from happening, and if someone knows the trick at not losing these, I really wish they'd let me know about it. Of course, that's my fault and not the fault of the company. And with almost no exceptions, I've been able to buy replacement covers for all of my pieces - including some of the ones I bought back in the 70s in the USA.
Conclusion - well, if we sum it all up, the truth is that by far the advantages outweigh the drawbacks. These items are versatile, sturdy, space saving, efficient and attractive. And while they might be on the expensive side, remember the old adage "you get what you pay for" and if I paid a few US dollars back in 1975 (which is equal to about 3 times that much today) for a set of mixing bowls that I'm still using today, I'd say I got my money's worth. Therefore, I can wholeheartedly recommend that you find a distributor, go to a party and start collecting these wonderful products. In the end, the money you save on not throwing out spoiled food or replacing inferior containers will more than cover the cost for these products. I'll give them five stars, despite pushy salespersons and what seem to be high prices.
Thanks for reading!
Davida Chazan © August 2002, updated June 2006
DISCLAIMER: I am not, nor have I ever have been, and truly doubt I ever will be, a Tupperware distributor or salesperson.
Tupperware disappeared from the UK sometime in 2003 and was relaunched there in 2005 and from what I hear, is gaining steam again, so go for it, people!
The official Web Page for Tupperware in the UK can be found at http://www.tupperware.co.uk but all it will tell you is how to contact a sales representative.
This site, however, tells you more about the history of Tupperware http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/story035.htm
As does this one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tupperware
While in the US you can actually order products on-line, unfortunately, this isn't possible in the UK and this is why I cannot quote you prices. However, I have noticed you can find some Tupperware on the UK E-bay site with prices ranging from as little as 50p for an old 1970s container - that from the picture looks like its in almost new condition (if a tad ugly to look at), and up to £40 for that fancy Ultraplus cookware that can be used in the fridge, freezer, oven and microwave. On that entry, I see that these have an original selling price of £59.95! Take a look for yourself at http://tinyurl.com/mvv3n