Hope's Corner: Spam in a Can, or in a Tupperware
"Burped or unburped, Tupperware sold like hotcakes during the 1950s. Busy moms stored leftover hotcakes, stray buttons, and lots of Jell-O in those bowls," writes Jackie Hope.
Last week I learned two new things about very old things.
Spam is now being served in fancy-schmancy restaurants on both the East and West Coasts. Yes, that tinned spiced ham that has its own museum in the heart of Hormel country in Austin, Minnesota. And Target is now selling Tupperware. Yep, those plastic containers that you have to burp like very full babies.
Spam. Why Spam?
Spam has been around since the Great Depression. Jay Hormel, son of the founder of Hormel Foods, did not like to see any edible piggy parts go to waste at the family’s packing plant in Austin – the Minnesota Austin, that is. He tried various recipes to make leftover pork shoulder bits tasty. His big breakthrough came when he cured the shoulders like ham from the other end of the pig, and then chopped them up and added secret spices.
On July 5, 1937, Spam in a can was introduced. It gained popularity during World War II because it was pretty much indestructible. But it was not well loved. Now, decades later, it is turning up in highbrow restaurants as an Asian fusion food. It was perennially popular in South Korean cuisine, and as American chefs explore other countries’ foods, they have opened up that can of Spam again.
Tupperware is five years younger than Spam. It was a war baby, developed by Earl Tupper in 1942. It did not hit the party circuits until 1946, when Tupper came up with the “sale through presentation” idea. He thought it was a splendid idea to send a sales lady to an afternoon tea party to demonstrate the virtues of a bell-shaped, lidded bowl that had to be burped before it could become airtight. Golly, those early Tupperware bowls must have looked, and sounded, a lot like me.
Burped or unburped, Tupperware sold like hotcakes during the 1950s. Busy moms stored leftover hotcakes, stray buttons, and lots of Jell-O in those bowls. By the 1960s the bowls floated across the ocean to England, where Tupperware dealers had a strict dress code. Skirts, nylon stockings, and white gloves were required. You gotta wonder what happened to the Tupperware ladies when Mary Quant introduced the miniskirt to London later in the 60s.
Last Monday Target began selling Tupperware containers both online and in its brick and mortar stores. That followed Tupperware’s migration to Amazon last June. Amazon has burping bowls in classic pink and blue. Target has the square bowls with accordion tops. And you can shop at either Target or Amazon in your jammies. We’ve come a long way, baby, from that 1960s dress code.
I have a Spam supper planned. The leftovers will go into my classic pink Tupperware, which I plan to burp and then put to bed on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Life is good.
Jackie Hope is the longest running Dickinson Press contributor and columnist. "Hope's Corner" is a weekly humorous column centered on a message of hope for residents in southwest North Dakota.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Dickinson Press, nor Forum ownership.