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Trace Material Podcast: Season 2

Mi Sueño Tupperware

In the late 1940s, Earl Tupper invented a durable, odorless plastic that revolutionized domestic food storage. Tupperware has since become nearly ubiquitous, present in almost 90% of US homes at the start of the 21st century.

But the real star of the Tupperware story was marketing guru Brownie Wise. Wise overhauled Tupperware’s sales and marketing strategy and created the “Tupperware Party.” As the Tupperware Party could be hosted at home, and the workers were independent contractors, people traditionally left out of the American workplace had a way to make an independent living.

As was the case in the mid-century period, the people who sell Tupperware are still mainly women. In addition to covering the story of Brownie Wise, we’ll talk to a Brooklyn woman who is selling Tupperware today.

And we will talk to Alison Clarke, author of Tupperware: The Promise of Plastic in 1950s America, to understand the fascinating transition from everyday product to cultural centerpiece.

Subscribe and listen to the episode on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Check out a gallery of images from the episode below:

Click here for a full transcript of the episode.

Trace Material is a project of Parsons Healthy Materials Lab at The New School. It is hosted and produced by Ava Robinson and Burgess Brown. Our project director is Alison Mears, and our research assistant is Olivia Hamilton. Trace Material was made possible by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Our theme music is Rainbow Road by Cardioid. Additional music from Blue Dot Sessions.

Alison Clarke
Imelda Reyes
Jessica Walthew

Tupperware: The Promise of Plastic in 1950s America
by Alison Clarke

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