With Tupperware’s fate all but sealed tight, readers share their favourite memories

Tupperware parties hold a special kind of nostalgia, but the days of the popular tight-sealing plastic container brand may be about to end.

Shares in the Massachusetts firm, which became famous in the 1950s, crashed by almost 50% last week after it told investors there was “substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern”.

With a potential emotional farewell looming, we gathered your favourite Tupperware-adjacent memories.

Ildiko Moran

On 27 February 1979 a small group of intrepid travellers left on the first train trip from London to Hong Kong. I was one of the group. Others worried about accidents and illnesses, food availability and quality, sleeping and washroom arrangements and whatnot. I was worried about clean underwear; we were only allowed two small cases. Forty-two days. What to do?

Photo of newspaper article with image of Ildiko leaning out of a train window and waving
Ildiko Moran in Daily Mail for the first train trip from London to Hong Kong. Photograph: Ildiko Moran in Daily Mail

I invented the portable Tupperware laundry. I bought the two largest size Tupperware boxes available at the time and, with lid underneath, lined both of my small cases with these, packing into them. I took detergent powder in sachets and a short washing-lines with hooks at either end.

During the day, one or both of the boxes held soapy water swishing to the rhythm of the train, dirty laundry in, lid on. Placed under seats. By evening everything was clean as could be, dirty water poured out in the lavatories and the boxes rinsed with fresh water from the taps. Overnight my little washing-lines with wet laundry were fixed at either end of whichever bunk, by morning it was bone dry. Same every day. Substantial bribes were offered for loan of said boxes but I was not over generous and thus arrived in Hong Kong with impeccably clean laundry.

Kudos to Tupperware, the train travellers’ irreplaceable aid!

Marilyn Root, Massachusetts

Many years ago I got the chance to photograph and interview Belinda Crimmins, who covered her car in images of recipes, food and Tupperware, circa 1995-1996. She said: “Tupperware was a big part of my childhood … the kitchen is the room where people hang out. I kept thinking back to my mom’s Tupperware parties and all the Tupperware in our house. You had to have the bowls with the lids, and of course, the salt and pepper shakers. All the women in our neighbourhood were stay-at-home moms; there were lots of kids, and when we’d go over to their houses, there was Tupperware. My car, Tuppertime, celebrates homemakers.”

Belinda Crimmins in her car decorated with images of food, recipes and Tupperware
Belinda Crimmins and Tuppertime in “Women at the Wheel: 42 Stories of Freedom Fanbelts and the Lure of the Open Road (Marilyn Root, 1999 Sourcebooks). Photograph: Marilyn Root

Tim Bolton-Maggs, Edinburgh

In the 1980s it was impossible to buy Tupperware in shops – to acquire it you generally had to go to a Tupperware party. These were held in people’s homes and the host, usually a housewife, was required to provide refreshment for the guests and was remunerated by the company. Seeing this as a way to raise funds, provide a social activity for members and run a public relations exercise, the Tyneside group of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality organised the first – and probably the only – gay Tupperware party in the UK. The representative admitted she had never experienced an all-male party before. My lasting memory of the occasion was a great deal of hardly suppressed hilarity when she was extolling the virtues of a device alleged to extend the fridge-life of lettuces: we detected double entendres in her speech that would have been unnoticed by her usual audience.

In the 1980s much gay socialising still took place in the (relative) safety of people’s homes and parties – often with a theme – were a regular part of Tyneside CHE’s activities, so a Tupperware party was merely a novel addition to the calendar. I still use some of the items I bought that evening, though the plastic is showing its age and some of the famous seals have broken, but I will never forget the occasion when I bought them.

Barbara Matthias Allard, Spain

I have a Dutch friend whose parents emigrated to Canada after the war and died there. They had always said they wanted to be buried in the family grave in Holland and this posed a problem for my friend. So after their demise they were cremated in Canada, but since the airline did not allow urns to form part of one’s luggage, my friend put the ashes in two Tupperware receptacles, duly marked with an M and V (father in Dutch is vader) and took them onboard with her hand luggage. And so, disguised as sandwiches, they went back to their ancestors.

Black and white photo of woman in a lounge room with Tupperware bowls on their heads as hats
Keep a lid on it. A Tupperware party, circa 1955. Photograph: Graphic House/Getty Images

Verena, Germany

When I was a young student, I was invited to my very first “Tupperparty”. For reasons I don’t remember, the flatmate of a friend desperately wanted a certain quite expensive Tupperware item. By chance, exactly this item was given to the party host if the attendants bought Tupperware for more than a certain amount at their Tupperparty. So she hatched the brilliant plan to invite absolutely everybody to the party. Then she would persuade everybody to buy the cheapest item in the Tupper catalogue to get the host gift. The Tupperware-selling lady was in her mid-forties and seemed a bit confused as we squeezed into the tiny room of my friend’s flat, as the kitchen was occupied by the buffet and quite a lot of not-Tupper-interested partygoers.

We were in our early twenties, so feeding the family wasn’t exactly what concerned us. We started with the cocktails early … [and] soon enough everybody was drunkenly sniggering at the stupid names of the boxes and two girls in the farthest corner of the bed started smooching and groping each other. The music in the kitchen grew louder, as the party started for real.

The Tupperlady had to yell, but the brave soul made it through the entire presentation and when it came to order the Tupperware gadgets, my friends got a lot of the drunken people to order a box or two. In the meantime the party started to spill into the staircase, with people yelling around drunkenly and puking in the elevator, so the other tenants called the police.

In the end, the police ended the Tupperparty early. My friend’s flatmate got her host gift, but had a hard time cleaning the trashed flat, appeasing the other tenants and explaining to students why they had drunkenly ordered sets of Tupperware they never wanted in the first place. I have been to a few Tupperparties ever since, but not a single one was ended by the police again.

Agnès, Spain

Whenever Tupperware comes up I think of my mum in her happy moments. Tupperware was a permit for blissfulness in our home. My mum was a strict teacher and could not relax easily, always on the lookout for unmistakable cheekiness. But whenever she would declare “let’s pack a Tupperware picnic,” I knew we would see her smile and be slightly more lenient.

We only had the picnic kit with a vinaigrette sauce mixer and a few soup plates with their lids. We would use these for community picnics in our neighbourhood and I would just rejoice impatiently until we could finally open the lid and eat my mum’s ingenious picnic salad: rice, tuna, corn, hard-boiled egg and tomato.

Bertin Huynh, Sydney

We were cleaning out our grandparents’ freezer once and found a Tupperware container full of dough to make these special rice cakes my grandma used to make when she was alive. Except when we found it, she had passed away almost a decade ago. We defrosted it, moulded them out and steamed them and they were delicious.

* Bertin Huynh is an employee of Guardian Australia. Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.


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