Jewish World Review March 12, 2004 / 19 Adar, 5764

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

Women don't burp and buy like they used to | As if the war on terror and the Axis of Evil aren't enough to put bags under your eyes, we now learn that Tupperware parties are waning for the second consecutive year. Makes you want to hug your lettuce keeper and never let go.

For my mother's generation, Tupperware parties were a major social event. Ladies slipped into nylons and heels, pulled on a shirt-waist dress and headed for a night out. Women were enthralled by the promise of plastic - air-tight bread keepers, sleek juice pitchers and stacking measuring cups.

But it was more than the lure of plastic. It was the chance to get out of the house, catch up on the news, and nibble on a cracker spread with pimento cheese. Tupperware parties were the natural evolution of quilting bees, taffy pulls and sewing circles.

For years, you could tell when a woman was married by the oldest piece of Tupperware housed in her cupboard.

If she had a batter bowl and cake taker that were a semi-clear plastic beginning to turn a sticky, dirty shade of gray, she was a bride of the '50s.

A woman with pastel cereal bowls in green, blue, pink and yellow was feted with bridal showers in the '60s.

A woman with flour and sugar canisters in yellow, rust or nutmeg brown was likely wed in the late '70s.

Tupperware proved indestructible. Once pieces had done duty in the kitchen, they were often retired to the backyard, where they lived second lives as bulldozers in sandboxes, scoops in dirt piles, or strainers for bugs floating in backyard pools.

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Nearly every kid in the '60s made homemade ice pops courtesy of the little Tupperware forms. If you were lucky enough to squeeze the ice pop out from its plastic sheath in one piece, it invariably broke before you were able to finish licking it off the wobbly plastic stick. That summer ritual of frozen grape juice running down your arm has never been duplicated by the likes of Ben and Jerry.

As we began edging toward the new millenium, Tupperware parties competed with increasingly crowded calendars. Women received invitations, complained about being too busy, moaned about the obligatory games, and said the last thing they had time to do was watch some woman burp plastic for the freshness seal.

Yet those same women often rushed through dinner, scrambled to get the kids set for the night, slapped on a fresh coat of face paint and arrived promptly at 7.

They came, they burped, they bought.

At one of the last Tupperware parties I dragged myself to, the crowd numbered three. There was the hostess, her sister and me - which meant I had a 50/50 chance of winning the door prize. Despite the small numbers, the hostess sold nearly 500 dollars worth of plastic. Most women were foregoing parties, instead placing orders at the office, the gym or while waiting in the carpool line.

More time passed, hostesses became sales consultants and the company expanded into cookware. Corporate headquarters even partnered with a major retailer to reach more direct-sale customers strolling through the aisles.

Today, your chances of attending a home Tupperware party may have decreased, but you can still buy the plastic. You can buy on-line, sitting alone in front of your computer. You can buy at a lonely kiosk in the center of the mall. You can buy Tupperware with small children hanging on your legs, your lipstick worn off hours ago and not a single tidbit of neighborhood news.

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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of , most recently, "Pass the Faith, Please" (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) and I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.

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© 2001, Lori Borgman