Earl Tupper was a dreamer and a tinkerer who liked to improve the things he saw around him. Always devising better gadgets and gizmos, Tupper held equally strong opinions about how to improve the people around him. Born to a poor farming family, he aspired to be a millionaire and a famous inventor, and he achieved both goals.
Born in 1907 in New Hampshire, Tupper moved many times in his youth, growing up on farms in central Massachusetts. His mother, Lulu, took in laundry and boarders, while his father, Ernest, a good-natured tinkerer who lacked ambition, operated the family farm without much success.
Young Earl was enterprising from an early age. At the age of ten, he started a business selling the family's produce door-to-door. When he was a teenager, he had little patience and much contempt for his father's lack of drive. Eventually his parents set up a greenhouse in Shirley, Massachusetts, where they offered the biggest selection of geraniums in the area.
Looking to the Future
Never much of a student, Tupper barely graduated from high school in 1925. After graduating he worked for his parents and took on odd jobs. He also took a series of correspondence courses. While taking a course in advertising, he concluded that advertising was the wave of the future, and he tried unsuccessfully to get his parents to be more aggressive about marketing. He wanted them to offer a "kiddies' free playland" on the grounds of their greenhouse -- an idea that was perhaps ahead of its time.