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. 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. He died in October 03, 1983.
Earl Tupper was a dreamer and a tinkerer who liked to improve the things he saw around him. Always devising better gadgets and gizmos, Tupper held equally strong opinions about how to improve the people around him. Born to a poor farming family, he aspired to be a millionaire and a famous inventor, and he achieved both goals.
Tupper also kept an illustrated notebook of his inventions. He fancied himself to be a latter-day Leonardo da Vinci. His “inventions” were wide-ranging. They included a better stocking garter, a dagger-shaped comb to be clipped to one’s belt, pants that wouldn’t lose their crease, and a fish-powered boat. He devised a convertible top for a rumble seat, customized cigarettes with names like “sporty” and “the collegiate,” a better way to take out a burst appendix, and hundreds of other innovations.
He doggedly tried to sell his inventions, but had little luck. To support himself, he set up a tree surgery and landscaping business. During the Depression, however, Tupper’s clients cut back, and Tupper Tree Doctors was forced into bankruptcy in 1936. Earl Tupper was lucky to get a job in one of the plastics factories in Leominster, Massachusetts.
It was famous for its comb industry, had made the switch to plastic in the late 19th century, and there were many small plastics factories run by self-taught engineer/inventors. It was a great place for Tupper. After one year working for the Viscaloid plant (the plastics manufacturing division of DuPont), Tupper bought a few used molding machines and began making beads and plastic containers for cigarettes and soap. He called his company Tupper Plastics.
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. He later designed liquid-proof, airtight lids, inspired by the secure seal of paint can lids.
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.
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.
Tupperware is the name of a home products line that includes preparation, storage, containment, and serving products for the kitchen and home, which were first introduced to the public in 1948. Tupperware develops, manufactures, and internationally distributes its products as a wholly owned subsidiary of its parent company Tupperware Brands. It is marketed by means of direct sales through an independent sales force of approximately 1.9 million consultants.