I Won't Apologise For Disrespecting: The Tupperware Edition
Everyone at some stage in their life has thought they were an inventor, only to wake up the next morning and realise their invention was actually the worst idea ever. Or worse, that their worst idea ever has already been invented and made someone a millionaire.
I’m not immune to what I have dubbed ‘Thomas Edison Syndrome’ and over the years have wanted to impulsively take out patents on the following ideas: windscreen karaoke (a multimedia platform where lyrics from songs playing on the radio appear sing-a-long style while you drive), the creation of an app that tells me what to wear each morning, and my simplest idea to date, canned water.
Only one person in a generation is awarded the title of the true inventor, and in 1948 that person was Earl Tupper.
Earl Tupper invented Tupperware. He originally invented the plastic, followed by his first bell-shaped container that was used to store and transport food. Next up was the arrival of the Tupperware Party in the 1950’s – a social gathering where women invited other women into their homes during the day to purchase these food-preservation-boxes. Later in the evening, while watching The Ed Sullivan Show and marveling at how these plastic containers were not injurious compared to the blade on aluminum foil, the newly converted would plot their Tupperware takeover. One week later they would be at top of the sales pyramid, their victory short lived by the next hungry convert who would topple them off the plastic throne. This cycle would repeat itself for the next few decades, bringing us to 2015, where 1.9 million contracted salespeople are employed by Tupperware globally.
Earl Tupper invented an airtight empire.
I love Tupperware. I love the burping slurp the lid makes when you push it into place. I love that I can transport food to work without my car seat first tasting it. I love that Tupperware makes my pantry look like a colour-coordinated wardrobe. However, despite all of its merits, I disrespect Tupperware.
Tupperware is an asset to any household. It is durable, functional, and compact. It stacks together Babushka-style. Except unlike real Babushka where the novelty of finding a baby doll wears off by doll three, everyone loves baby Tupperware. How else would we transport salad dressing, or carry those three blueberries we have rationed for our mid-morning snack to work?
Tupperware has a lifetime guarantee, and because of this people pass it down generation-to-generation to really get their money's worth. Can your grandmother’s wedding ring store frozen pumpkin soup and allow it to defrost perfectly when you microwave it six months later? Tupperware is the new family heirloom. That’s why people are scared to open their pantries, because they fear a Tupperware avalanche crushing them to death. No one throws away Tupperware, except me.
As soon as I take Tupperware out of the pantry it is a death sentence.
The prettiest ones with the best coloured lids die first. My intentions are good I promise. One day I hope to have grandchildren and I want to give them something sentimental – a plastic container that I’ve spent every lunch break with for the past 40 years is what Lifetime Movies are made of. The reality is my Tupperware relationships are much shorter.
Everything goes smoothly up until the point where I have just about finished eating/emptying the contents of the container, at which point I will do one of the following things:
Deliberately leave two mouthfuls in the container, pop the lid back on and put it back in the fridge to avoid washing it. Then ignore it, if you stare at something long enough you will soon stop seeing it.
Delude myself that I will wash the container when I get home (see: put in the dishwasher) and put the container in the backseat of my car. I will pull into my driveway, glance at the container in the backseat, and tell myself I will instead wash it at work tomorrow. This game of ping pong will go on for some time until I drive over speed hump a little faster than usual one day and the container disappears into 'under-the-car-seat-exile' – a great result for everyone involved.
Muster up the energy to wash the container at work and leave it on the dish wrack to dry. FOR THREE MONTHS. I will do this again and again, leaving the Tupperware at work until I am relegated to bring cling wrapped dinner plates to work as a substitute.
If the Tupperware is fortunate to survive this first stage of abuse, its likely it will not escape the untimely wrath of stage two. WARNING: If you give me your Tuppeware to borrow, I will never give it back. If I give you my Tupperware to borrow, I will abandon it and won’t remember I gave it to you. I have even accidentally melted Tupperware by leaving it on the stove until it resembled Salvador Dali’s Melting Watches. I have on occasion reunited with long lost forgotten Tupperware, and similarly to long lost relatives, it/they should stay lost for a reason - because I have found science experiments growing inside of those plastic containers that not even a Forensic specialist could identify. This led me to to commit the biggest Tupperware sin of all – I have thrown it straight in the bin. I love Tupperware but refuse to be at the mercy of the container that carries my food no matter how mesmerising its lid is, and for that I won't apologise.
Illustration by Alice Oehr.