Just in time for Thanksgiving leftovers — first dibs on the cheesy cauliflower! — we learn that the versatile container system, once beloved but then out of vogue, has been dragged back from plastic purgatory by what? The coronavirus, what else?
For five of the past six years, Tupperware logged negative sales. An Associated Press story in Newsday said the company appeared on "life support." Then, guess what? We started cooking again.
Pre-COVID, Americans ate out like crazy. That was before plastic cutlery, plexiglass sneeze guards, servers in surgical masks and worries about trips to the restroom before heading home.
The restaurant crowd began thinking, gee, I wonder if I can remember how to crack an egg and set the oven to 350? Kettles boiled, fry pans sizzled, Crock-Pots, circa 1972, were pressed into service. Uneaten portions of baked ziti and tuna casserole proliferated.
Sales soared 30% higher than expected. Home cooks clamored anew for Snack-Stor containers, Thatsa Bowls, Beverage Buddies and hourglass-shaped salt and pepper shakers. Inventor Earl Tupper introduced his first products in 1946. Happy days were here again.
"With these favorable results and positive momentum in the business, we believe the turnaround is well underway," said executive vice chairman Richard Goudis.
It sure is at our house.
I’ve been churning out harvest grain bread, morning glory muffins, oatmeal cookies and apple cider doughnuts as if finally in touch with my inner Ebinger’s, the superb and long-gone Brooklyn bake shop. On Friday night, I make pizza. Drop by if you’re in the neighborhood. Window service, only.
My wife, Wink, is a regular Rachael Ray.
"I haven’t cooked like this since the kids were little," Wink said. "Easy once you figure out the can opener."
She’s being modest. Here are menu highlights: Pappardelle with mushroom sauce, eggplant au gratin, broccoli soup, stovetop lasagna, glazed salmon, burrito casserole, muy sabrosa, every bite.
There have been certain lapses, even with simple tasks.
The other day, we burned the toast. I threw it away and then felt guilty.
"What are you doing?" Wink asked, finding me with a hand in the trash.
"It’s right on top," I said. "Nothing gross."
"Incredible," Wink said, and I feared she would ring the children. "Dad’s begun eating out of the garbage. Should I be worried?"
Things could be worse, of course.
We had a friend, Trevor, who prized his covered-dish clam recipe. One day he whipped up a batch. Guests grew pale. Trevor hurried to check ingredients and — no! — saw a bottle of household cleaner on the kitchen counter next to the shortening. Instead of a quarter-cup Mazzola, Trevor substituted Lestoil. The concoction was germ-free but might have wiped out a whole dinner party.
So, yes, like most everyone else, Wink and I are on KP duty now. Before the coronavirus, we ate out a lot.
In general, we are not high-rollers — for Wink, an extra bag of dark chocolate barkThins is a major splurge, and I am profligate mainly when it comes to $14 Wigwam sweat socks — so we thought it OK to spring regularly for a couple of glasses of wine, Caesar salad and fettuccine pomodoro at the local Italian dive.
It’s not even so much the food that was the kick but the improvisational theater of restaurant eating — water glasses filled, menu arrives, and, look, here comes olive oil for the focaccia.
Also there is something reassuring about the sound of other voices — of being with people for whom you did not have to spend three days preparing a meal only to fear a few may linger past bedtime.
Back before PPE, we often met friends for dinner — Paul and Gwen, Bob and Judy, Howard and Ilene, Brigitte and Anthony, Sidney and Barbara. It’s a joy seeing their names.
Sidney always makes the night special. Alarmingly sociable, he is apt to engage nearby diners on matters others wouldn’t dare.
"So," Sidney might say for openers, "who’d you vote for?"
If he spots a college student, Sidney will call out: "That fancy school you’re going to worth the money?"
Or maybe he simply will inquire: "You don’t look like you’re from New York. Kansas?"
We miss all that, and hope it happens again.
Meanwhile, time to clear dinner dishes and store the leftovers. Check the cabinet for Tupperware — right there, just behind the Crock-Pot.