In the 1950s, Tupperware had a novel idea to promote its product. Instead of mailing catalogues to the suburban housewives who bought their plastic storage containers, they decided to send fellow homemakers--called "Tupperware ladies"--to do the peddling.
Avon Ladies and encyclopedia salespeople had already hit upon the idea of ringing the doorbell. But Tupperware wouldn't stop at the front door--their representatives charged right into the living room.
These days, not a whole lot has changed. "Tupperware consultants," as they're now called, find willing hosts and turn a sales pitch into a social phenomenon. Consultants bring the goods, "hostesses" (still the official term, despite its gender specificity) provide a space, and the festivities begin.
Think the elite "10,000 Men of Harvard" might turn up their noses at a Tupperware party? Think again.
Tupperware consultant Joan Maimonis of Arlington says that men and women of all ages, ethnicities, and social classes sponsor Tupperware parties these days.
Sanjay Krishnaswamy '93, who held such a party in a Lowell House tower room earlier this month, is living proof.
"Sanjay is a young male who, like many these days, saw a need to make his food preparation and storage easier and cleaner," Maimonis says. "He saw a chance to take advantage of the potential to earn free Tupperware by hosting a party."
Krishnaswamy first encountered Tupperware last summer when Maimonis held a party in the biology lab where Krishnaswamy was doing research.
"I went nuts, I ordered everything," says Krishnaswamy, who was living and cooking on his own over the summer. "Because I cook a lot of Indian food, the spices I need are only sold in a few places and they're hard to store. Tupperware was perfect."
Tupperware got Krishnaswamy through months of preparing his own food. Surprisingly, though, he maintained a similar closeness with his kitchen-ware even after he returned to the world of Harvard dining halls.
Krishnaswamy, who lives in Lowell, decided he wanted to share the exaltation of owning Tupperware with his neighbors.
For his efforts, Krishnaswamy received a complimentary microwave reheatable bowl, a "beer thing," and "the joy of knowing that I was able to be of help to others."
He and Maimonis arranged to hold the party in Lowell's F-entry on January 11. Maimonis, who had conducted a party in Canaday earlier in the year, was anxious to participate.
"College parties are so much fun, because the kids who come seem to be genuinely open-minded and interested in learning about Tupperware," she says.
Some of the students who attended were themselves Tupperware "veterans." Sean F. Whalen '93 revealed that his own mother had been a Tupperware lady.