The history of Tupperware Parties, Tupperware Ladies & how they sold millions of plastic containers

The history of Tupperware Parties and Tupperware Ladies

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Starting back in the 50s, women were encouraged to start their own businesses, hosting Tupperware parties, and demonstrating how to use those popular plastic containers. So what were these parties like? Here’s a look back!

Visiting a Tupperware party (1960)

By Irene Corbally Kuhn – Emporia Gazette (Emporia, Kansas) July 2, 1960

One night when I saw visiting a friend in Queens, a subway ride from Times Square, my hostess took me down the street to a Tupperware Party in the home of young mother of three little girls.

She had invited 12 of her neighbors from her block to show them the new samples. This was a typical American suburban street of average income families and a total of 73 children.

Sixties Tupperware party - 1963

The evening started with games, and all the women taking a night off from husbands, housework and children, got right into the spirit of the occasion. Only soft drinks and cookies were served — this is an unwritten law so that no one is tempted to overreach herself socially or financially.

Mrs Stegmaier showed the new things, discussed new ways of using them. The party lasted two hours, and when it was over, the women ordered what they needed. One of the guests announced she’d like to be a hostess next month.


Make handsome incomes

This is the endless chain of house selling which has made an overwhelming success out of a disappointing failure.

Housewives are making handsome incomes from entertaining their neighbors and taking orders for household articles from a line set up by a dealer beforehand, and finishing off the evening of fun and neighborliness with coffee and cake.

Many first-time hostesses, or guests, become dealers themselves. They discover latent sales abilities and go on to become sales managers. Then they recruit and train more dealers, and help put on more parties.

Tupperware career

At this point, the husbands often become interested. The next step is one in which the husband often gives up his regular job and joins his wife as distributor. The couple then operate their own warehouse and office to supply the dealers in their franchised territory.

Today, 90 of the 160 franchised distributors are husband and wife teams. Men who have held ordinary jobs, averaging perhaps $5,000 annually, and wives who have never worked outside their homes, are making $35,000 to 50,000 a year from these home parties today.

This should destroy the myth that all housewives lead a dull and profitless existence.

1950s Tupperware home parties ad

History of Tupperware parties: 1958

Tupperware is famous for efficiency, economy and unchallenged beauty. The patented “Tupper Seal,” a virtual “vacuum pack,” is the leader in the industry. The complete line includes over 100 items for refrigerator, freezer, pantry, table, picnic basket and home uses.

It carries the Parents Magazine Seal of Commendation and the Good Housekeeping Guaranty Seal. The selling principles and techniques used by Tupperware Home Parties, Inc. have built one of our country’s greatest sales programs.

Since 1946, Tupperware has been sold on the home party plan. Tupperware will continue to be sold exclusively by independent distributors. It will not be sold in Rexall stores or other outlets.

1950s Tupperware party - 1958

Home parties are successful, because they are both fun and profitable. The hostess benefits by receiving a lovely Hostess Gift. The guests benefit by learning more about the money/space/time saving features of Tupperware.

The dealer benefits, both through earnings and the satisfaction of rendering a real service to the hostess and guests. Independent Tupperware distributors are located throughout the country. Most are conveniently listed under Tupperware in the Wholesale Plastic Products Section of the Classified Telephone Directory.

1950s - Car Mary bought selling Tupperware


History of Tupperware parties: 1964

The Tupperware home party plan is unmatched for simplicity and effectiveness in marketing the world’s finest plastic housewares. Tupperware home parties have been accepted by millions of consumers the world over as a convenient, welcome service.

Personalized demonstration meets consumer demand for product information; the relaxed, informal nature of a typical party makes buying easy, and parties fill a social function as well. The person in whose name the party is held is called a “hostess.” She invites “guests,” usually from her neighborhood.

1960s Tupperware party - Sales info (2)

Tupperware’s tens of thousands of independent Tupperware dealers conducted millions of parties, delivering an in-person sales message to many millions of homemakers. Most Tupperware dealers are married women, and as homemakers themselves, communicate with a persuasive naturalness.

Consumer confidence and brand loyalty are maintained at high levels. Rare consumer dissatisfaction is resolved quickly, and in person. The home party plan is also an extremely flexible marketing vehicle.

For example, a new product can be released for sale one day and be demonstrated in thousands of homes the next. Promotion capitalizing on current trends can be put into effect virtually overnight.


A look at the Tupperware home party plan (1960s)

Tupperware is sold on the home party plan, exclusively by Tupperware dealers. Tupperware was withdrawn from other outlets because it wasn’t demonstrated. Many salespeople in stores do not have the time to demonstrate.

Tupperware must be demonstrated for customers to appreciate all its uses. For example, you have to show people how to “wink” the Seal, use the “Pour-All” spout, how to stack Tupperware to save space — upside down or sideways, how products are designed for special uses.

Demonstrating is a service for the customer. Dealers also give customers household tips on saving time and money. Customers also share their discoveries of Tupperware’s usefulness.

1960s Tupperware party - Sales info (1)

The perfect sales room

Selling Tupperware is relaxed and informal, for your “sales room” is the living room, your display is the center of attention. This starts helping you sell right from the beginning, even without any previous sales experience.

Other reasons for using the party plan: It’s a perfect atmosphere. Guests are seated and relaxed, don’t feel hurried. They come to have fun — enjoy the company of friends and learn to save time and money. They decide on the items they want by convenient armchair shopping. Your suggestions help them.

MORE: Vintage Tuppertoys: How many of these plastic Tupperware toys do you remember?

Since its adoption of the popular home party plan, Tupperware sales have spiraled upward. With unique adaptations, Tupperware home parties have become the modern, convenient, fun way to shop. Thousands of Tupperware salespeople and their customers share in its success.

1960s Tupperware party - Sales info (3)

Retro 60s Tupperware party from 1968

Vintage Tupperware party from 1964

World Headquarters: Orlando, Florida (1963)

Tupperware’s world-wide sales headquarters is the center of sales supervision and training for Tupperware’s sales organization. This 1,000-acre site includes a 2,000-seat auditorium for training of Tupperware dealers and managers in the United States.

Tupperware world headquarters - Orlando 1963

Vintage Tupperware “Know How Demonstration Guide” (1970s)

Vintage Tupperware Know How Demonstration Guide

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Tupperware parties of the 1970s

Meet the ladies with the fresh ideas.

They’re your Tupperware Ladies — with some great ideas for locking in freshness.

1970s Tupperware Kitchen storage sets

Your Tupperware Lady has the freshest ideas for locking in freshness

Old Tupperware from 1978

Tupperware party history - 1966

MORE: Dozens of kitschy ’70s kitchen accessories your mom or grandma probably used to have

Vintage Tupperware storage containers - Early 1970s (7)

Retro 1980s Tupperware pieces (2)

Tupperware parties of the 1970s

Tupperware sales parties in 1985

Tupperware today is a very different organization from what it was only a year ago. A number of top management changes have been made, and operating disciplines fundamental to a consumer products company such as marketing, marketing research, product management and sales forecasting, have been established.

These functions extend the effectiveness of Tupperware’s basic strengths: its powerful consumer franchise; the unequaled quality and innovativeness of its product line; informative product demonstration; and a unique sales and direct-delivery distribution system.

MORE: Vintage Corning Corelle dishes from the ’70s & ’80s are plates full of memories: See dozens of vintage patterns

In 1985, the company began employing new and meaningful incentives for hostesses, dealers and managers. To attract and retain dealers, Tupperware instituted a program that provides greater sales force profitability and better rewards the recruitment of other dealers. Dealer longevity has increased by approximately one-third.

1980s Tupperware party

Also, Tupperware has linked incentive and promotional awards for new and existing managers to productivity improvements and success in training new dealers.

To make a Tupperware career more attractive in relation to other job opportunities, an independent insurance and financial services trust was created for the sales force that enables participation in group health, life and accident insurance coverage and personal investment programs.

Many Tupperware customers prefer the traditional home party. But, for those whose lifestyles restrict participation because of time pressures or other considerations, Tupperware has contemporized the party format while maintaining its benefits. Dealers now are encouraged to tailor parties in length and content to the needs of hostesses and guests, while still adequately demonstrating products.

The contemporary party format has been designed for offices, clubs and other convenient locations. And, although most parties are attended by women who have families, non-traditional customers — singles and men — are being attracted to the system.

Tupperware recently introduced a preview catalog, an abbreviated version of its standard catalog, that is mailed to consumers who have been invited to parties. Given an opportunity to review the line at leisure, guests come to parties pre-sold on items appealing to them. As a result, sales per guest and sales per party have improved. Average sales per party, in fact, were up 15 percent in 1985.

MORE: Vintage Tupperware: See 100+ retro plastic container styles, from the ’50s to the ’80s

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Comments on this story

One Response

  1. I remember many of pictured Tupperware pieces from my childhood. I also remember my mother hosting several Tupperware parties and the attendees played games for prizes, etc.
    I still have a mini Tupperware bowl key chain. My mother would make me keep a quarter inside in case I needed to make a phone call. Ugh…I am OLD!

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