Earl Tupper Created Tupperware
Earl Tupper (1907-1983) was the genius behind the containers. Tupper ran a landscape business until the 1930s when there was little work to be had. He took a job at Dow Chemical where one of his supervisors gave him permission to take some the polyethylene slag (waste from DuPont products) home with him. He began experimenting with how to purify and reuse it and found a way to create non-breakable containers. With World War II on the horizon, he also found a way create lightweight gas masks.
Later on, he designed liquid-proof, airtight lids. The lids became well-known in their own right because of marketing: The “burping seal” locked in freshness. He called the company Tupperware.
Tupperware was useful and innovative, but people were skeptical of plastic. Homemakers stayed with the tried-and-true methods of storing food in glass or metal containers. While some metal containers snapped tightly, most glass containers that had lids were a loose fit.
The product might have languished if he had not met Brownie Wise. Plastic was not yet used regularly in the home, so people weren’t accustomed to buying plastic for food storage.
Brownie Wise (1913-1992) telephoned Earl Tupper to explain her ideas for selling his product. He made her a vice president of the company. She brought with her a direct sales method that led to skyrocketing company sales and domination of the food storage market.
Brownie Wise was the first women on the cover of Business Week Magazine!