We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this very important product from our archive: Tupperware.
Late last December, a friend announced that her New Year’s resolution was to replace all of her plastic Tupperware with Tupperware of glass. She was glowing. She already had an IRA, she had learned all of the moves from Gloria Estefan’s “Bad Boys” video, and now she would no longer tote her butternut-squash soup in a polycarbonate container that threatened to leach bisphenol A into her blood stream. In that moment, I wanted her to run for president.
Glass, plastic, round, or square—nothing says I’m a grown-up and I’ve got my act together like Tupperware. For proof, look no further than the evidence of our archive. In Lauren Acampora’s “Self Evident,” a Tupperware preserves a biblical mess of lentils and rice—representing, in this case, safety and good sense—while the protagonist ponders indecent exposure. In Andrew Martin’s “Cool for America,” a climbing instructor leaves a Tupperware filled with homemade granola for a romantic rival, tacitly signaling his superiority as a provider and a man. In Jonathan Lethem’s “The Empty Room,” a father takes charge against clutter by declaring that one room of the house shall remain empty. There are no rules about what can transpire or can enter the empty room. The only rule is whatever is brought inside of the room must be brought out with the bearer as they exit. Enter Tupperware, conveyor of marijuana, sandwiches, and other ephemera—and a metonym for the empty room itself or, as the father calls it, the lung of the house: “By filling and emptying with the stuff of the world it stands as the most aspirational organ, in a literal sense.”
Aspire—with Tupperware (and The Paris Review).
Toniann Fernandez is a writer based in New York City.