The bowls, cups and serving trays on display in Monique Hageman's china cabinet are precious, but there's nothing delicate about them. Hageman, who lives in the Netherlands, has one of the world's largest collections of vintage Tupperware, but she's far from the only one drawn to the iconic, famously burp-able household brand.
"Tupperware sells itself," says Paul Evans, who keeps a rotating selection of vintage Tupperware in stock at his Toronto antiques store, Studio 1484. "It typifies that Brady Bunch, 1960s, Leave it To Beaver generation. It has all these cozy moments with it." In addition to the Proustian effect of these pieces' distinctive texture and plasticky aroma, Evans also notes that their colour palettes are perfectly representative of every era from the 1950s to present. "Usually there are six or seven colours that designers work from for a decade," he says, showing off a stack of pea green, mustard yellow, pumpkin orange and mud brown tumblers from the 1970s. Sets from the 1980s, he notes, are in demand now thanks to the resurgence of the pastel pinks, blues and greens that typified the era.
"I find that Tupperware purchasers are very loyal to the product," says Karen Auchstaetter who lives in Saskatchewan and sells vintage Tupperware at the Etsy store OutrageousVintagious. Indeed, in a world where durable plastic containers are given away free with Thai food and sold by the dozen on supermarket shelves, the survival of decades-old pieces from Tupperware's golden years is all the more remarkable.
While her shop boasts collectible period pieces like mint green Jello-molds and harvest gold devilled egg containers, Auchstaetter's best-sellers, she says, are utilitarian pieces that prove as useful in 2017 as they were in 1977. Among these are items like "Pickletainers," storage tubs with built in lifters for easy snacking and sets of nesting cookie cutters. "Vintage Tupperware continues to meet the needs of the modern family lifestyle," she says.
Hagemen loves Tupperware for its design and utility, of course, but is equally drawn to the brand's backstory. Inventor Earl Tupper was struggling to raise interest in his plastic storage containers until he partnered with Brownie Wise, the visionary saleswoman who invented the Tupperware party. Wise would go on to be the first woman on the cover of Business Week magazine. "They were a golden couple," says Hageman. "I'm still amazed how two people can make such a revolution in the everyday life of a lot of people."
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