Friday, October 03, 2008

特百惠 = Tupperware

I have to say, Tupperware's Chinese website looks fantastic. In comparison, the Tupperware UK website has been looking a little tired until recently, but there has been an interesting development this very week.

You could have knocked me down with a feather when I discovered that the current UK Tupperware catalogue is now available to browse online (see below). There is a very cool page-turning effect! You can do close-ups! You can rest your mouse on any item for more information! See for yourself. There is no facility to order online: you still need to contact your local consultant to order. So if you are one of my London punters, let me know if you need anything.

I am always interested in how Tupperware varies around the world, how both the products and other aspects of Tupperware seem to always fit in with local enthusiasms and culture.

In China, as this interesting article explains, they do not have Tupperware consultants like me, who sell Tupperware through home parties. That form of private enterprise is frowned up on politically. Instead, the Tupperware company has allowed "entrepreneurial storefronts" to open in China, in other words a franchised Tupperware shop. There were around 1900 outlets across the country in 2005.

My friend James is just back from China, and he took this photo for me of a store in Suzhou, near Shanghai. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you will see some familiar items in the window. The Chinese name for Tupperware, which you can see on the storefront, is 特百惠. This translates as "Hundred Benefit".

If I read the Babelfish translation of the franchise info correctly, it appears that a franchise costs from 60,000 yuan which is around £5000. However that may be wrong. An online translation can only give you the gist. Here is what it tells me the Chinese Tupperware website has to say about how to tell real Tupperware from fake:

Outward appearance   The outward appearance is very similar, but the end product is rough, common hand phenomena and so on has the fragments, to blow. And the light-admitting quality is bad, the pigment distributes non-uniform, or has slight defects and so on spot, gas spray, air bubble.

Smell   The majority has the irritating the nose revertex stink or the uncomforting unusual smell.

Function   Various types product cannot achieve the function which completely hundred benefit products have especially: Like seal, antidrip, moisture-proof and so on. Moreover after heating up, like the release toxin, is very big to the human body health danger.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Absolutely, Vanessa!"

I won't hear a word against Vanessa Feltz. I know she has made some dodgy decisions about her professional appearances, her clothes and her lovers, but that only endears her to me, who has often made the same mistakes. Her daily phone-in on BBC London 94.9 shows that she is professional, clever, funny, self-deprecating, articulate and genuine.

On her Saturday show this week, one of the topics is Tupperware. There have been newspaper reports that in these credit-crunch times, people are going back to packed lunches, and sales of lunch boxes are up 40%. After an Australian Londoner phones in, saying she cannot get Tupperware here and is reduced to trawling charity shops for her fix, I decide to phone in and set the record straight (and maybe get a bit of business).

When I speak to Vanessa's researcher, it turns out that she has been looking for me all morning. As the Tupperware consultant for London, she was hoping I could add something cogent to the discussion. I end up doing a 10-minute interview. I also say "Absolutely!" way too much.

Tupperware in fashion

Last April, I blogged about my guest appearance at Timberlina's Bingo Pub Night at London's Royal Vauxhall Tavern. This week we team up again to bring a touch of Tupperware to a swanky party during London Fashion Week. Various celebrities (and Peaches Geldof) have been invited to decorate a beach hut, which is displayed at the party at the Royal Academy in Piccadilly. The huts will be auctioned, and the proceeds given to the celeb designer's chosen charity. For some reason, Timberlina and I are invited to occupy the floral beach hut designed by singer Alesha Dixon, where we will demonstrate Tupperware as people arrive at the party. As the publicity says, "Join Ms T for a glass of something as she embarks on a new career tangent as a freelance Tupperware consultant with her mentor for the evening, Andrew".

It's a more starry event than my usual parties, and many of the guests are pictured arriving or leaving in the papers the next day. Duncan James and Tara Palmer-Tompkinson are there, and Rhys Ifans, Roisin Murphy, Mark Ronson and Mika glide by our hut. A shockingly bony Lady Victoria Hervey has a 3-person camera crew in tow all evening. I talk Tupperware with Cleo Rocos, who takes two catalogues. Timberlina has to explain to me who keen browser Patrick Wolf is, and that the polite posh girl called Morwenna who buys a Mini-Max is a famous catwalk model.

I used to work with fashion students, and every fashion party and show I ever went to was total chaos. Crowds cramming to get in, and not being allowed in for no apparent reason. Tonight's party was no exception. Lots of ticket waving. But Timberlina and I have fun, and someone brings us a bottle of Taittinger champagne which we sip all evening from Tupperware dripless straw tumblers.

Fashion people are not great customers, they expect to get everything for free or in a goody bag. But it was a hoot, and who knows where these things may lead.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Robbed by East End villains

Please look closely at the the item in the photo above, top right. That is a set of Tiwi Ice Tups, the classic Tupperware product for making home-made ice lollies. If a dishevelled and evil-smelling man approaches you on the streets of East London, and offers to sell you a set of Tiwi Ice Tups, that will not be me. Rugby tackle him to the ground, grab the Ice Tups, and contact me immediately. Let me explain.

The organisers of the annual St Barnabus Community Fete in Bow invite me to be part of their event this year. It pretty much pours with rain all day, but I have a prime spot next to the spectacular cake stall (below right), and I can bask in the glory of their amazing array of rock cakes, fairy cakes and brownies.

Business is as brisk as the weather allows, and I sell quite a lot of Tupperware. At one point two members of what I shall generously call the street drinking community shuffle over and start fingering my products. Distracted by another customer, I just catch the Can Opener going to one guy's bag. "I'll have that back please", I bark. He gives a fake-puzzled look. "The can opener you just put in your bag. I need it back". He hands it back, muttering something, and lurches on the to cake stall and asks for a free cake.

A little while later, someone asks about the Ice Tups and I say "Oh yes, a classic, they are right here... oh." Robbed! Later still I notice that a Universal Peeler has gone too. Either the guy who took the can opener also took the other stuff without me noticing, or my stall is being staked out by a latter-day Fagin and his gang. I report it to the organisers, and there follows a hilarious sweep of the fete, with strapping South African security guards occasionally beckoning me over to ID a possible wino with a Tupperware habit.

There were a couple of occasions when, a la Albert Square market, I asked one of the cake women to "Watch my stall" while I fetched a coffee, so maybe it was my own fault. Bleedin' East Enders.

I have been in touch with members of the East End Women's Institute and will be running a Tupperware party for them in December. I am delighted to see that they are running the tea tent at the Community Fete, and I go an introduce myself. I get a big hug from Sorella Le Var, Vice President and Food Champion. She has popped up on television this summer advising on food storage and preservation. My kinda gal!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A catwalk of cakes

It has been a very quiet year so far. Most weeks, a couple of people contact me to order some Tupperware, but I have not been asked to do a party for ages. Then all of a sudden, two come at once. I could say it never rains but it pours, but it is a glorious weekend, a bleak London sun glinting on my fine kitchenware.

First of all, I take the Northern Line to Highgate to meet Sylvia and her friends. Sylvia and her most enthusiastic guests hail from Germany originally, and it really does seem to be true that German folk adore their Tupperware. Anya doesn't even have a house to put it in at the moment, but she stocks up for her new kitchen, ready to equip it later in the summer when she moves in.

Sylvia is having a bit of a kaffee und kuchen afternoon, and has fashioned a sort of catwalk for her ravishing cakes, using cans of tomatoes and some MDF. It is a lot more elegant than it sounds. A rhubarb cake, a marble cake, and a cake jewelled with fat plums all strike a pose, surrounded by key pieces of Tupperware. Sylvia herself gets well into the retro swing by sporting a fabulous 70's red floral maxi-dress from her mum's collection. Tall, and with long dark hair, Sylvia in her period frock reminds me of the very poised and chic German women who used to fascinate me on our family package holidays to the Franco-era Costa Brava in the early 70s.

I love the way the friendly guests don't take themselves (or me) too seriously, but take their Tupperware buying very seriously indeed. I am dispatched at the end of the party with a sheaf of orders in one hand, and an Oyster full of cakes in the other [right].

I run stalls at fetes now and again, when I feel like it. Over the years I have been rained on, shat on by birds, and made to hide my Tupperchef knife for fear of arrest. But it's nearly always a fun day, and generally I get a couple of parties out of every fete. This Sunday I have agreed to run a stall just a few hundred yards from my house, at Trinity Church Square in the Borough area of London. It is the Open Gardens Square weekend, during which well-tended little private squares all over London are opened up for the day to pleasure seekers and nosey parkers. There are often special one-off events taking place in the squares, like today's fete, which has a few stalls, some kids making 99s, a jazz band and a beer tent. I man my stall from 11 till 6, and it's a leisurely day. I am more interested in putting the word out about parties than in actually shifting any products, but for once I do sell quite a bit. My neighbour in the square is the Chickenbus stall, where Eleanor and her husband sell fair trade crafts and decorative items from Latin America. We while away the afternoon planning ways of building our little businesses.

Maureen from Johannesburg is already there as I arrive to set up my stall. She has previously stumbled across my blog, and is thrilled that Central London's only Tupperware consultant is her neighbour. Maureen and her husband are in London for a year, staying in a company flat over by Tower Bridge. I gather their kitchen storage leaves quite a lot to be desired, and I am happy to help Maureen upgrade.

Some very enthusiastic browsers get quite beside themselves at the sight of so much Tupperware in one place, and I am hoping to be running some local parties before too long.

Journalist Zoe Williams reviews a book in The Guardian this week called The Kitchen Revolution which is all about making the most of seasonal produce, cooking ahead and leftovers. She comments that

We have quite a bit of this left over (even though I've halved the measurements to cater for two), and for about the sixth time in the week, which makes it the sixth time in my entire life, I find myself thinking how much I'd like some quality Tupperware.

Needless to say, a catalogue is on its way to Zoe via The Guardian.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Famous Belgians

My friend Caspar is just back from visiting his parents in Antwerp, Belgium, where he came across this Tupperware shop and took photos for me (above and below left). I had no idea there was such a thing as a Tupperware shop. According to Caspar, the shopkeeper told him that the products cost slightly more in the shop than you would pay at a party.

I receive an email from Kevin, who is producing a play set in the 1960s. And boy, is he keen to get the details right:

"The play is set in London in 1962, and one of the props is a plastic, see-through biscuit tin. I was wondering if you could offer me any advice on this. I immediately thought of a Tupperware tub for this, but having done more research it seems Tupperware didn't reach this country until 1960, so would this mean in 1962 it would still not have been a common household item? Similarly I am after any information you can give me on what the Tupperware pots would have looked like at this period, and whether you think that one would have been used in this situation."

I explain that the Space Savers (right) look approximately the same as they always have, and would probably fit the bill. I refer the producer to his local consultant in Cardiff, but I do also offer to supply him with some props if the show transfers to the West End.

I take food writer Tom Moggach to task over his article about leftovers for The London Paper. He writes that "Investing in good tupperware also helps. Lock and Lock is easily the best brand, available from John Lewis". Now I don't have anything against Lock and Lock but, as I asked Tom, doesn't the fact that he uses the brand name Tupperware to generically describe storage containers mean that Tupperware must therefore be the best? He emails back with a sweet apology and a request for a catalogue.

My first party for ages is coming up this Saturday for Sylvia and her friends in Highgate. And on Sunday I have a stall at the Open Garden Square weekend event in Trinity Church Square, round the corner from where I live. More grandly, I am hoping to be running a stall at the Garden Fete at Lambeth Palace later this month for the Archbishop of Canterbury himself.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Another corny old advert

Another vintage US Tupperware television ad has appeared on YouTube. This one is for the Serving Center:

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Targeting the Germans

Germany is Tupperware's biggest market in the world. German folk really love their Tupperware. The products seem to combine some typical (and stereotypical) German enthusiasms: modern design, baking, organisation, not wasting resources and money, and fresh foods that need to be stored properly, like cooked meat, cheese, cream cakes and salads.

Now and again, I have made a few attempts to let German Londoners know that they can get their beloved Tupperware from me. I offered a stall or fundraiser to the German church, who memorably emailed me back saying "Hallo Andrew. We are not interested." And I offered a Tupperware party to the German Information Centre, who gave a hollow laugh and offered to display a pile of catalogues.

Meanwhile, I am contacted by a new free newspaper for German-speaking Londoners, The German Link. Do I want to advertise with them, and perhaps reach that precious London German market? I do, I really do, but given my non-existent promotion budget, not to mention the Tupperware company's aversion to advertising in general, I decide it would not be a good idea.

Anyway this weekend I stumble on the first issue of the paper. There is a pile of German Links just inside the window at the new German Deli at Borough Market, home of sensational sausages, German groceries and German-style cheesecakes. I ask the fräulein if I can leave a pile of my postcards by the newspapers, and to my delight she says "Ja, natürlich, mein lieber Herr". If you study the above photo very closely, between the Borough market types going about their business you can see where my friend Young, a marketing professional who was pottering round the market with me, has cheekily stood a card up in the window [right] on our way out.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Alan needs a jelly mould -- now!

You may imagine me strolling the aisles of an echoing Tupperware warehouse. In fact, I work from home and I only keep a very small stock of Tupperware products here, generally the most popular items. Most of the time, I will need to order products from my distributor, and it takes around a week or so.

With this in mind, a call comes out of the blue from a researcher on ITV1's Alan, Alan Titchmarsh's afternoon show. Can I supply them with a old-style jelly mould? Apparently, Alan has suddenly decided he needs one for the show. Tupperware has two different fantastic traditional jelly moulds, I explain, and I could have one for you in a week. "Well, we really need it for 2pm" the researcher trills. I glanced at my kitchen clock, and it was 12:30pm. If I had a spare one in stock, I would certainly have taken it over to them, because I don't live far from where the show is recorded. And it would have been a good story for the blog. But I don't.

I don't drive, so I don't know what possessed me to order this huge Tupperware car-magnet from America via Ebay [above]. Blame the cheap dollar. It is two feet by one foot, and the only large surface it fits is the door of my freezer. If anyone fancies slapping it onto their car door and doing some advertising for me, let me know. I can pay you in Tupperware.

Orders are trickling in, but nothing special. It's almost time for the catalogue to change over to Spring/Summer, and I have plenty of the Autumn/Winter edition left over. So I heave them into an Aldi bag, and take the bus over to Wimbledon, London's South African enclave, where I have a small order to deliver to Fiona. Around Wimbledon and Raynes Park train stations there are branches of The Savanna, a South African grocery chain, where staff are always happy to display catalogues. At the Raynes Park shop, my catalogues form a sensational South African installation [right] with the ostrich biltong.

I understand that there is another male Tupperware consultant in the UK now, name of Daniel. Looking forward to meeting him.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


If you search for "Tupperware" on YouTube, you get dozens of deeply tedious videos uploaded by doting parents showing American toddlers on the kitchen floor playing with Tupperware products. Please no more. Meanwhile there are some gems too, some of them uploaded by the Tupperware company itself.

This is a fantastic 1970s US ad for Tupperware's Ultra 21, now supercede by UltraPlus:

Some Mexican guests getting excited by Mini-Maxes:

And a Mini-Max commercial:

What really happens at a Tupperware party:

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Consultant to the stars

It occurs to me that I am the Tupperware Man for anyone who lives in Central London, so sometimes when I hear or read that a well-known Londoner has praised Tupperware, directly or indirectly, I send them a catalogue and introduce myself.

They usually don't reply, but recently an embossed heavy cream correspondence card from Mayfair resident Nigella Lawson drops into my post box. Her assistant Zoe thanks me for the catalogue and says they will let me know if Nigella needs anything.

She is classy.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Comeback Kid

Hello and Happy New Year. I have been lying low for a couple of months. Rumours of my Tupper-demise are unfounded. And despite threatening here a few times to kick over the tower of Mini-Maxes and sweep off, apron a-swish behind me, I am still pushing the plastic. I have often been frustrated because I can only sell Tupperware through parties, and can only date parties through word of mouth. This just wasn't working in the context of my home city of London. People do want Tupperware, but sadly they don't really want to host a party for it. I have had some free and frank exchanges of views with the Tupperware top brass about this and some other matters which I won't trouble you with, gentle reader.

But two strange thingss have happened since last we spoke. Firstly, and despite my sluggish autumn, I have just heard today from the UK distributor some interesting news.

I was the top-selling consultant in the whole country for 2007!

What's more, say it loud, say it proud:

You can now buy Tupperware without going to a Tupperware party!

Yes, Tupperware UK now allows sales through "virtual parties". These are not the online parties that consultants run in the US, sadly. It simply means that you can order direct from a consultant, from the catalogue. You don't need to hoover, clean, cater, invite your friends over, or indeed have any friends to invite over. And of course, this new development also means you can now become a Tupperware consultant without having to shlep a kit-bag across your city. You can just distribute catalogues around your friends and neighbours and wait for the orders to flood in. OK, maybe "flood" is pushing it a bit, but if you want to know about being a Virtual Consultant, do let me know.

Oh, and to update my last post, I have now lost a stone through Slimming World.

Having said that I have virtually retreated, I do still run parties and other in-person events and fundraisers when I am asked. I am just not often asked. But I never say never, and when Maria, a friend of my friend Laura who was my first ever hostess way way back in May 2006, asks me to run her baby shower back in October, I am delighted to oblige.

Here's a round-up of my other Tupper news from the last couple of months:

There was another Church Fayre organised by the House of Homosexual Culture at St John's Waterloo. Last year's event was an Autumn Fayre, this time it is a Christmas Fayre. I am given the spot right next to the pulpit. There are hundreds of visitors, and I sell plenty. I also manage to press catalogues on author Sarah Waters and lead singer of the Feeling slash M&S model Dan Gillespie-Sells, but no parties have come out of it yet. We'll see.

A second Christmas Fayre, this one a weekday evening event organised by the KPMG company as a Christmas shopping evening for their staff. It's a bit of a disaster. I am experiencing terrible (although expected and normal) flu-like symptoms from recent diptheria and yellow-fever vaccinations (I am going to Uganda over Christmas). I can barely stand up, let alone smile and sell Tupperware. I don't sell so much as a Universal Peeler or Silicone Spatula. My neighbouring stall Kazu the Japanese Florist also sells nothing, and we both rather feel we have been sold a pup. Far from racking up sales to the cash-rich, time-poor city types we had been expecting, all the customers are PAs and secretaries looking for token secret Santa gifts. My state-of-the-art kitchenware and Kazu's exquisite wreaths are ignored in favour of pound-shop pashminas. The champagne is nice, but the event is a right dud for me.

My most intriguing delivery is to an actress currently appearing in the West End show Avenue Q. I drop off her order at the Stage Door between rehearsal and the evening performance.

I troop over to London's Science Museum to see their Plasticity exhibition. I faux-casually insert some catalogues into their leaflet rack. They have on display one of the original Tupperware injection moulding machines for making a Mix-N-Stor (right).

I bid on and win a very cool snow globe on Ebay (see main photo) which appears to be a consultant reward or gift from Tupperware in the US. It features some key Tupperware pieces caught in a snow storm.

Margaret "Benny" Hone, my grandmother, customer, and source of all gossip and mischief, dies peacefully at home, aged 92, in the early hours of 3rd January. She fell ill just a few days before, fairly sound of body and very sound of mind until the last. Here she is talking Tupperware with my cousin Emma at my sister Lois's Tupperware party in August 2006.