Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Old Fashioned Tupperware

For Thanksgiving, we indulged in that once a year sin, Cool Whip on our pumpkin pie.  Tonight when I went to do dishes, I found this:  

When I was growing up, this was our Tupperware.

I have vague memories of what we would now consider "actual" Tupperware - for our house, some square containers (which invariably I associate with applesauce storage and some actual real 1960's vintage Tupperware at my grandmother's house (picture light orange and blue bowls with clear lids).  But for the most part, we used these - or plastic bags (pre-Ziploc) for our lunch.  But for most of our short term food storage, this was it (or other recycled items - large margarine tubs were also well used).

This was back in the day when there were not cardboard inserts on the on the lids or cellophane wrappers around the outsides and so, over time, the writing became faded, in some cases fading to complete illegibility.  One "knew" it was a Cool Whip container by its shape and its faded blue images, not like some of the those "lesser" imitation whips.

Oddly enough, this really represented the first "recycling" that I can recall.  I suppose it was because my grandparents were quite frugal (having lived through The Great Depression) and the fact that growing up, we were probably what would be considered lower Middle Class.  But we faithfully reused those things until eventually they either broke or we finally graduated to "real Tupperware".

Today of course, we only speak of such things as items to be recycled, not reused. (Interestingly enough, I do think that in principle packaging is something we need to address.  That said, no-one wants "their" butter to be purchased in sticks or their toothpaste without boxes.  Always something else).  But once upon a time we had these things for free.  Why did we feel the need to "invent" additional plastic storage devices?


  1. My dad's family was from Vermont, and we grew up with a New England ethic: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." We used jelly glasses (it used to come in large tumblers, with snap-on metal lids), glasses which were "premium" prizes in boxes of detergent, or given away at gas stations (yeah, I'm old; I get it). Plastic butter or margarine containers. Anything washable got re-used.

  2. We re-used all kinds of containers at our place. Aside from the Kool Whip tubs, there were the smaller margarine tubs. Remember those? Coffee cans were used for nuts, bolts, nails, and screws. They also pulled duty as temporary storage for various shop liquids and as handheld containers for paint. Baby food and peanut butter jars also held small parts. Soup cans were cut apart and used to patch rusted out exhaust systems on the cars. Cut the bottom out of a bleach bottle and it became a large funnel or a boat bailer. Other containers were DESIGNED for re-use. Jelly jars became drinking glasses when emptied. Shrimp cocktail containers became juice glasses. Remember the Log Cabin syrup containers that became coin banks in their second lives?

    Funny; "back when I was a kid," the total refuse of a family of five for the week fit in a 30-gallon trashcan. Somehow though, us "Boomers" are the ones that are blamed for "climate change," and are browbeaten by Millennials to "go green..."

  3. Reverend, my grandmother's family was gold-mining stock in the hills. They got every bit of value out of everything. My grandmother had 5 sisters, and they were all quite frugal for all of their lives.

  4. Pete, I remember most of these things as well. I still use coffee cans when I can get them and have nuts and bolts in baby jars when have not had babies in many years (probably as much nostalgia as anything else).

    The garbage thing is a puzzler, as you point out. We are theoretically more "green" but we seem to produce more waste than ever. We cannot really have "convenience" and "green" in the same world, it seems.


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