“Admit it, we all have this one! I can’t imagine it’s not in all our kitchens,” says one of the ladies as I stare down at my phone, abashed, as though to see if it’s still recording. The discussion continued as I became lost in thought, wondering why I didn’t have that kitchen utensil. What was I doing wrong? When am I going to become a proper homemaker?
Such soul-searching was the last thing I expected at 10 o’clock one recent morning when I rang the doorbell to an apartment in the leafy northern Athens suburb of Vrilissia to attend my first-ever Tupperware party.
But as soon as I saw the colorful plastic containers arrayed across the dining room table, I thought of my grandmother and how she swore by the brand, and the unmistakable sound of the lid popping into place, thinking how her vast collection was probably buried in one of my mother’s cupboards, beneath fancier, cheaper and more expendable varieties that we tend to call Tuppers regardless of brand – perhaps in subconscious recognition of the huge impact around the world of these airtight plastic containers for storing food, invented by Earl Tupper from New Hampshire in 1938.
I tried to remember if, as I a child, I had ever snuck into a Tupperware party hosted by my grandmother, where I’m sure she would have served her fanciest biscuits and savory snacks. Dolly, my hostess at Vrilissia, had certainly put on an amazing spread of coffee, tea, sweet cheese pies, cake and sundry biscuits.
Such an event is bound to awaken memories, as Tupperware has been around in Greece for 54 years, key manager Mina Katsirou explains, noting that such parties are still going strong, despite what some (myself included) may have thought. In fact, she said, across the country, one takes place every two minutes.
“The company has seen a big increase in sales since the start of the crisis,” says Katsirou. “Housewives today prefer to spend a bit more money on something of good quality and the need for plastic food containers has also grown. No one throws food away today and almost everyone takes food to work.”
Tupperware even has a factory in Greece, in Thiva, employing 250 people.
Mina has been working for Tupperware for 25 years. “When I first considered becoming a seller, holding shows and earning a commission on sales, my husband was opposed to the idea. But I thought it would allow me to set my own schedules and if I didn’t make any sales then that was OK. A party is like an open shop: You may get a customer or you may not. It eventually went so well that my husband started chauffeuring me all over Athens.”
The average display brings in 300 euros and it is up to representatives to set the pace of parties, Mina explains.
Other than the commission, sellers are also given gifts as well as perks for every new seller they bring in, making it an attractive proposition to more and more Greeks.