Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Tupperware Bra

Have you ever wondered what a Tupperware Party is all about? I know I have...I mean, I’ve heard the term for years. But when I think about it, I always conjure up an absurd image of 1950s-era housewives in fancy party dresses drinking, laughing and flirting while fondling dumpy plastic containers with that funny name...Tupperware.

I can barely keep a straight face.

So when Jody announced that we were throwing a Tupperware Party at our house, I jumped at the chance to meet and mingle with Israel’s version of The Stepford Wives.

Plus, Jody informed me that the highlight of the event was that we would actually cook something using the Tupperware products. And as hosts, we’d get a free gift.

A party with real food and even party favors...I could get into that!

The party was called for 8:30 PM. The organizer, Rivka, arrived shortly before that and began laying out the table full of plastic bowls, salt shakers and ribbed salad crispers, all with the famous Tupperware airtight “burp” system that ensures that food stays fresh longer.

No more stale soup nuts. No more runny cucumbers (hey, maybe I should be writing Tupperware ad copy).

Even so, the stuff was remarkably hi-tech. And in pretty cool colors too.

“They make a great wedding gift,” Rivka stated brightly.

Apparently, Tupperware has come a long way from the days when inventor Earl Tupper was looking for a way to take his WWII experience with plastics into the booming post-war consumer market.

But when his products didn’t sell well at retail (the patented Tupperware seal required hands-on demonstration), Tupper made an even more successful invention: the home party. It’s been going strong now since 1951.

Even with prices known to be on the high end for plasticware, Tupperware has grown into a $1.1 billion company that now reaches over 100 markets around the world with products geared to local interests. There’s even a Tupperware “Bento Box” in Japan.

However, back in our exotic little corner of the world, it was now 9:00 PM and we were still waiting for the guests to arrive. 9:30 rolled around. Rivka was keeping her cool, but even by Israeli standards, this was pushing it.

I called the kids out of their rooms to fill in the non-existent numbers.

“What’s that?” eleven-year-old Merav asked as she scoped out the table and spied a container with a greenish liquid in it.

“Here, catch!” Rivka called and tossed the container at Merav. She caught it, fortunately, but apparently it wouldn’t have made a difference. This Tupperware olive marinater was, like many Tupper products, guaranteed to never spill...or your money back.

“Here, Amir, look sharp!” I called and threw a plastic container with what looked like flour in it at our thirteen-year-old.

“No, stop!” Rivka yelled. “Only the round ones are guaranteed spill-free.”

Oops...” I muttered as the container thudded on the table, forgivingly staying shut.

“Maybe I should start,” Rivka said. I glanced at the clock which was now pushing 10:00 PM, and we all nodded in agreement. Rivka began her round-the-table description of all the assembled items, referring frequently to her Israeli-produced catalog.

And I thought: imagine that: Tupperware in Hebrew. If that doesn’t say something about where we’ve come as a nation, I don’t know what does.

We got to see a cereal holder that filled from the bottom. “So you never have to put new cereal in on top of the old stale stuff,” Rivka explained.

There was a long and skinny container Rivka said was perfect for half-open packages of spaghetti. A cake icing squeezer with five different nozzles. A mini-strainer for oils and sugar.

“What’s this?” Amir asked holding up a weirdly shaped red rubber contraption. “Is this plastic too?”

“This one is made of silicone,” Rivka said.

“I think it’s a bra!” I joked, pretending to try it on.

“It’s for baking in the microwave,” Rivka scolded, trying to hide the slightest disdain in her voice. Then deftly changing the subject, she chirped: “Which is what we’re going to do right now!”

“I still think it looks like a bra,” I muttered under my breath.

Meanwhile, Rivka got out her recipe for vegan egg-less brownies, took the container with the flour and poured it into a deep white bowl, added in some oil (from another definitely spill-proof container) and mixed in powdered sugar and chocolate with her special Tupperware soft spatula.

She then scooped the mixture into the red rubber, microwave baking dish.

“See, nothing stays stuck to the side of the bowl,” Rivka announced happily.

Merav surveyed the bowl and, seeing there was scant left to lick, demanded “What’s the point of that?”

The cake mix went into the microwave for eight minutes and then, voila, out it came, a perfect cake. No fuss, no muss. And pretty tasty too!

After we’d eaten our fill, the kids lost interest and I got a phone call. By the time I came back to the kitchen table, Rivka was gone, the party was over, and Jody was sitting with a pile of Tupperware in front of her.

“Can we afford this?” I asked.

“They were on sale,” Jody said sheepishly.

“Did we at least get our free gift?”

Jody held up a small, strangely-shaped spoon with a spiky edge.

Still, I have to admit, I’d been sold too. This Tupperware stuff was pretty nifty.

And even though the evening itself may have been a bit of a bust, there’s always a bright side. At least our kids won’t have to wonder their whole lives what a Tupperware party is...or what the heck that weird silicon bra-thingie does.

Rivka throws a mean Tupperware party and they're usually standing room only. To have her bake a cake in your house, contact her by clicking here.

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