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Earl Tupper

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Earl Tupper

Earl Tupper
Born July 28, 1907
Berlin, New Hampshire, USA
Died October 5, 1983(1983-10-05) (aged 76)
Costa Rica
Nationality Costa Rica (formerly United States)
Known for Tupperware

Earl Silas Tupper (July 28, 1907 – October 5, 1983) was an American born-Costa Rican businessman and inventor, best known as the inventor of Tupperware, an airtight plastic container for storing food.

Early life and career

Tupper was born on a farm on Cates Hill in Berlin, New Hampshire. The Tupper Family moved from Berlin when Earl was 3 years old. After studying at Bryant University (then Bryant & Stratton), he began a landscaping and nursery business until the Great Depression forced the business into bankruptcy. He then got a job with the DuPont Chemical Company.[1]

Creation of Tupperware

Using black, inflexible pieces of polyethylene slag, a waste product of oil refining process given to him by his supervisor at DuPont Chemical Company, Tupper purified the slag and molded it to create lightweight, non-breakable containers, cups, bowls, plates, and even gas masks that were used in World War II.[2] He later designed liquid-proof, airtight lids, inspired by the secure seal of paint can lids.[3]

Tupper founded the Tupperware Plastics Company in 1938 and in 1946 introduced Tupper Plastics to hardware and department stores. Around 1948, he joined forces with Brownie Wise, who caught his attention after she made a lengthy phone call to his office in South Grafton, Massachusetts, in which she explained her extraordinary success selling Tupperware via home parties.[2]

Based on a marketing strategy developed by Wise, Tupperware was withdrawn from sale in retail stores in the early 1950s and Tupperware "parties" soon became popular in homes. This was the first instance of "party-plan" marketing.

The Corporate headquarters was moved from Massachusetts to Orlando, Florida. After his falling-out with Wise, which resulted in her dismissal in 1958, Tupper sold The Tupperware Company for $16 million to Rexall. Shortly afterward, he divorced his wife, gave up his U.S. citizenship to avoid taxes, and bought an island just off the coast of Costa Rica.[4]

In 1969 Tupper donated 428 acres of land in Smithfield, Rhode Island to his alma mater Bryant College (now named Bryant University). The land was developed into the colleges new campus which opened in 1971.

Tupper died in Costa Rica on October 5, 1983 at the age of 77.


  1. ^ Freeth, Nick (2005). Made in America: from Levis to Barbie to Google. St. Paul, MN: MBI Publishing Company. p. 227.  
  2. ^ a b Clarke, Alison (2001). Tupperware: The Promise of Plastic in 1950's America. Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian books. 
  3. ^ "People & Events: Earl Silas Tupper (1907-1983)". Tupperware!. PBS American Experience. December 11, 2003. Retrieved 2011-03-11. 
  4. ^ [1]

External links

  • Earl S. Tupper Papers, ca. 1914–82 Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
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