Tupperware: The Reason Why We No Longer Use Shower Caps to Preserve Food

by moderndomestic on August 10, 2008

A ModernDomestic regular submitted this Wall Street Journal book review as a possible item of interest to readers. The book in question, Tupperware Unsealed, by Bob Kealing, examines the history of this All-American emblem of mid-century suburban domestic living.

Tupperware and its many imitators (Gladware, Rubbermaid, even those Ikea storage containers that litter the sinks of many a shared dorm kitchen) are one of those things that you don’t even think about these days, and yet at one time the idea that one could seal food in plastic containers was truly revolutionary. According to the review, before Tupperware came along, housewives would put shower caps over their food to keep it fresh. I mean, I know that they probably didn’t also use them in the shower, but just putting the words “shower cap” and “food” in the same sentence feels unsanitary to me.

I like books that explore how items that seem ho-hum and obvious to us now, were actually revolutionaries in their time. Who would have known that the plastic container that you throw your leftovers in today is possible because an inventor stubbornly decided that, damn it, there was a way that all this leftover military waste could be turned into a profit! Or that Tupperware only became a success at all because a shrewed sales woman named Brownie Wise perfected the art of the Tupperware house party, and had the foresight to realize that her team of domestic saleswomen would particularly respond to incentives like mink coats and Cadillacs?

So if I see this in the library, I may pick it up for a review. In the meantime, you can read the article and thank your lucky stars that you don’t have to cover your leftovers with a shower cap to keep them fresh.

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