Photo by Anne Fishbein
FOR OVER 20 YEARS I'VE HAD A PRETTY terrific career as a folksinger traveling all over the world singing and performing. I've made five records, and I love my job, but I hate being away from home because I have a family now. So a few years back, I was looking for a job where I could still do everything I love: write, sing, perform, record and stay close to home. I said to my partner, as a joke, "I could sell Tupperware!" She laughed and said, "Yeah, right!" "No," I said, "I grew up with Tupperware, I love Tupperware."
You're probably thinking that I was being ironic, but it's true. I've always loved Tupperware. As a kid I went bananas over the miniature Tupperware key chains my mom would bring home to me from her Tupperware parties. I remember the giant jade-green salad bowl, the weird Jell-O mold, the beautiful pastel nesting bowl set in pink, yellow and blue. Yeah, I've always loved Tupperware but never thought I'd sell it until that night when my partner said, "Well, then, why don't you take some action?" And I did -- I opened the phone book and called Tupperware. They welcomed me without batting an eyelash and explained the wonderful world of Tupperware.
I learned that in 1946 Earl Silas Tupper, a somewhat quirky engineer at Du Pont, created the Wonderlier bowl, a perfect container made of a brand-new plastic: polyethylene. Earl's genius was making a mold from the lid of a paint can, thus creating the now famous Tupperware seal. Of course, name recognition was still a ways off. It took a single mom and saleswoman named Brownie Wise to turn her personal passion for the Tupperware bowl into the product millions know and love today. In the '50s, Brownie created THP, Tupperware Home Parties, and the rest is housewife history -- and so much more.
There's nothing like a Tupperware party! Yet there is no "typical" party, either, no standard hostess profile. Poodle trimmers, pathologists, movie stars, leather men, hairdressers, hash slingers, parents, and children of all ages have been sent into the throes of ecstasy by Tupperware's combination of nostalgia and quality. The pastor's wife had a swell party. So did the preschool moms and the gay psychiatrists. They all went gaga for the Hostess Gift Special (Tupperware only a host can receive). Theme parties ('50s, '70s, gladiator, bring-your-oldest-piece-of-Tupperware) are popular at home or in the office. One thousand people attended the Cleveland International Film Festival's Tupperware fund-raiser at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. I once competed with a giant-screen TV on Super Bowl Sunday. And I even demo'd Tupperware on my surfboard out in the lineup -- the cake decorator doubles as a wax comb!
Tupperware is perfect for food on the go. Twenty-four deviled eggs travel quite handily to a picnic in the Egg-ceptional Server. Lunch at the office is a cinch when you pop your Crystalwave Luncheon Dish into the microwave. Sandwich Keepers in the lunch box not only guard against squishing but also help the environment by eliminating plastic-baggie waste! Going to a potluck? Carry crudités and dip in the Serving Center. The Fix'n'Mix is everyone's favorite salad bowl. Our Cake Takers are infamous!
I truly believe that Tupperware improves the quality of everyone's life. It certainly has mine. One of the reasons this job is so swell is flexibility: I can work whenever I want, make my own schedule, take the kids to school and schlep them to birthday parties, and still have plenty of time to do what I love. Plus, since I kind of have trouble with authority figures, it's great not to have to answer to anyone!
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There's more: I drive a 1964 Falcon station wagon that I adore and will never part with, but it was just chugging down the road. Well, guess what? Now I'm driving a company car! Who would give me a company car? Tupperware, that's who, and they pay tax, license, insurance and tires. And now there's Tupperware.com. When I signed up to be a consultant, I automatically got my own Web site. People go to my site, order Tupperware, and I just sit back and get a check in the mail. How great is that?
It's so easy to sell. What's the first thing anyone does when you say the word Tupperware? They giggle, and then they say, "I need some!" Well, guess what's paying for the new engine in the Falcon? Tupperware! And guess what's paying for my new CD that will be coming out this fall? Tupperware!
This is the last thing I ever thought I'd be doing. It's the most fun I've ever had.
Phranc will give a Tupperware party at UC Santa Barbara's University Art Museum on Thursday, July 25, from 7 to 9 p.m. For info, call (805) 893-2951.