AKA Earl Silas Tupper
Birthplace: Berlin, NH
Location of death: San José, Costa Rica
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business, Inventor, Chemist
Nationality: Costa Rica
Executive summary: Inventor of Tupperware
After finishing high school, Earl Tupper worked as a mail clerk, railroad laborer, and landscaper before being hired at Viscoloid, a subsidiary of DuPont, in 1937. Though he had no training in chemistry, he became intrigued by the company's laboratory, and left Viscoloid after just one year to establish his own business, manufacturing parts for gas masks as a DuPont subcontractor. Using leftover plastics obtained from Viscoloid, he developed a new plastic called polyethylene (or polyethene), a clear, durable, flexible, lightweight, and non-toxic material which he called Poly-T because, he said, "there have been too many bum articles called plastic". In 1946 he opened a new business, the Tupperware Company, to manufacture airtight food storage containers.
Tupperware products were originally sold in stores, and Tupper even opened his own shop on New York's Fifth Avenue. Sales were slow, however, except in Detroit, where a divorced mother named Brownie Wise was offering Tupper's products in home parties with great success. In 1951, when Wise called the company to complain about a late shipment, Tupperware was still so small that Tupper himself answered the phone. After hearing how many bowls she had sold he hired her to devise a multi-level marketing system of home sales parties, and Tupperware sales skyrocketed. Wise became the public face of the company, appearing on talk shows, even becoming the first woman to appear on the cover of Business Week magazine. In 1958, she was abruptly fired by Tupper, the company's sole shareholder. He then sold the business to Rexall Drug for $16M, divorced his wife, renounced his US citizenship to avoid taxes, and bought a small island off the coast of Central America, where he retired.
Though he never attended college, Tupper gave Bryant University 420 acres of land in Smithfield, Rhode Island, in 1967. The university constructed its new campus on this land, relocating from Providence in 1971. Bryant University's official mascot is now "Tupper the Bulldog".
Father: Earnest Leslie Tupper (farmer)
Mother: Lulu Clark Tupper (boarding house operator)
Wife: Marie Whitcomb Tupper (m. 1931, div. 1959)
Son: Glen Tupper
High School: Fitchburg High School, Fitchburg, MA (1925)
Tupperware Brands Founder & President (1946-58)
Earl S. Tupper Company Founder & President (1938-46)
DuPont Viscoloid (1937-38)
Renounced US Citizenship
Naturalized Costa Rican Citizen
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