Friday, January 6, 2017


It's still the season, isn't it?

Comments on the previous post were helpful reminders, which we'll discuss as we go along. Researched history is detailed and available online. I suggest these Wikipedia sites (here and here), but you can find many more. My goal in this series is to spark memories of mid-century containers. Then we might discuss what we can do to reduce plastic usage, which was not a goal at that time. I just hope I can present my thoughts in an orderly manner without being too repetitious (forgetful).

One of the problems with these posts is the lack of proper illustrations. If we’re going to illustrate, I’ll need to be innovative.

By the time I was born (1949) plastics were already becoming common. I remember plastic toys, including a set of doll dishes, and most of my dolls were vinyl or hard plastic rather than composition.

Kathy, Dorothy, and Vance Dobson, 1959
I was about 10 years old (1960) when Mother and I went to our first Tupperware party. Like other mid-century housewives, Mother was impressed. She bought several packs – rounds and “square rounds,” and our family’s food storage habits were changed forever by this revolutionary product.

As I recall (the 1950s), most suppers were cooked in pots and pans and the contents then removed to serving dishes – no exceptions. It was considered tacky to serve food in the pan in which it was cooked, even for the informal supper. After the meal, left-overs were transferred to smaller bowls to take up less room in the refrigerator. If food was baked and served in a casserole dish, left-overs were likewise removed to a smaller bowl or casserole. Mother didn’t re-heat in the same dish because it causes the food to bake on. We didn’t have a dishwasher, so the impact of all this food transfer was an increase of time-consuming mindless work, which Mother graciously accepted. (Me? Not so much.)

Of course, this was also the pre-plastic wrap era, but Mother had elasticized plastic caps that stretched over the bowls. These are still available today (here). They were better than nothing but didn’t seal freshness in and odors out. We washed and re-used these caps, and my dislike for washing and drying them was second only to washing and drying bread sacks. (Yes – we did that, too.)

The Family Home, 1959
I think we used quite a lot of waxed paper. I suppose we might have crumpled it over the food in a bowl, or held a piece in place over the top of a bowl with a rubber band. Sometimes a pan lid would fit a particular bowl, and Mother also had flat lids. But the food was subject to drying and depending on what was in there, the fridge was smelly with mingling food odors.

When plastic storage containers came on the scene – and Tupper held a patent on that – the first thing we saw was an orderly system. Beyond that, those containers would seal, which kept the food fresher and the refrigerator less odorous. Even if your food spoiled – perish the thought! – it was still contained in its airtight compartment. But -- it was not considered dishwasher safe, so it didn’t reduce our workload. KW


Chuck said...

great description. Many if use the same methods today, for a variety of reasons. Our biggest problem with leftovers is not getting them used within a couple of days.

Kathy said...

We do pretty well using leftovers. Dabs of this and that become lunch. But -- the occasional this or that will find its way to the back of the fridge and spoil.