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Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Steri-Lite Plastic STERILITE COMPANY Connections to Tupperware

Sterilite Picnic Set
Sterilite Box with full picnic set For sale at RetroChalet

The Sterilite Corporation

Kudos to Sterilite who is one of the few plastic factories who has withstood the test of time.  The Sterilite Corporation is still in business and started in 1939.  You may or may not realize originally the company started in partnership with Earl Tupper.  (One of the creators of Tupperware.) Imagine that!  All good things come from plastic.   According to the website at the time of today's post, I took this little snippet, . " Sterilite is the largest plastic houseware manufacturing company in North America with seven plants totaling over 12 million square feet'  

I'm glad as a small bbq business owner myself, that a family business has lasted so long. You may not even realize when you are walking through the Wallyworld just how many products they make.  From pull out plastic cabinets to totes and bins,(of which I'm looking at some now that hold my Etsy stock),  their presence in our daily lives is prominent.  For vintage collectors, you may find pieces marked Sterli-Lite or Sterilite.  For the sake of this post, I'm only talking about the picnic sets. They weren't made of melmac, but most likely a Polystyrene plastic.

steri-lite vintage plastics
Inside of an Original Sterilite Picnic Set  at RetroChalet

The picnic sets were quite popular in the 40's and 50's and are a hit with people who had campers. For the working families of the 1950's, having a travel trailer would be the ultimate family vacation.  Picnics were also a huge thing, whether it be in a park for the day or not, these sets were very popular.  Grandparents also enjoyed them, due to the fact they were light weight and pretty and easy to deal with making a quick snack for the grandkids. 

In collecting, some of Sterilite Picnic Sets you will find:  (often unmarked)  Steri-Lite 

1.  RARE TO FIND:  Actual Wicker Wooden Baskets full of Sterilite Picnic Sets - with dishes strapped in and places for plastic sterilite utensils.  Finding a set with all pieces and still mint is rare, but it happens.  I assume utensils would have been easier to break or lose. 

2. RARE TO FIND:  Boxed sets like mine, often called Picnic Sets , rare but out there.  Especially in primary or pastel colors will be most collectible. 

sterilite vintage plastics
This item sold at LSVintageDesign but shows the snakpak, more common and what I often find in the thrift stores. Note the original silverware will be hardest to find.  The box is a rare gem.

STILL COMMON:  SNAK PAKS -(ABOVE) These pieces are more common and popular, and easy to find.  Often these were four rounded picnic plates with indents in the center to hold the cup.  A big hit with moms with kids.   Finding the original box is not as common and considered rare. I have not seen one in years. 

UNCOMMON:  The picnic sets still sealed in plastic bag sets.  Most often I think these were found in the dime stores of the 1970's and maybe into the 1980's, they came in a bag with graphics.  If you are lucky enough to find one unopened, that's impressive.  Often they were opened, and used, and floating around in flea markets. 

Other manufacturers of simliar vintage picnic sets: 

INGRID - Big for their party balls. 

TUCKER - Often looks much like Sterilite

JERYWIL - Often rectangular 

REGALINE - Simliar to the SnakPaks

Mod PIcnic Set

This STERILITE set from HipFindsCo, is most likely a 70's-80's set, shaped much like INGRID party balls. This a prime examle of Sterilite staying on top their game!

Back to my set, the funky bright colors make this set a rare find and a real gem. You can see how the original set was packaged by the manufacturer, carefully thought out. In this original box, there is a premade slot for display and actually thin kraft like paper in between the pieces.  This would have displayed nicely in a retail store. 

Sterilite vintage plastics
Rare original stickers say this can withstand scalding water! Pic: RetroChalet

The rarest of rare, is the original stickers still on these little cups.  It says they can withstand scalding water but does say to avoid ovens and any surfaces with open flames.  As you know, tea was quite popular as was coffee back in those days and one of the problems in melmac collecting is often the unsightly coffee stains.  Additionally, when I looked closely at the yellow plate in my set, I could see swirling which is a super cool part of the molding process. 

This set is a rare find in the original box. I picked it up years ago at an antique mall in Pennsylvania. The dealer had cleaned out an old hardware store, and I assume these would have been sold in the picnic or camper section. It stood in a dusty attic of the store for years, and thanks to the strength of the plastic, it withstood the test of time.  I hate to part with it, but I'm making a huge move cleaning out some of my precious plastics. 

It's currently offered for $125.00 and free shipping but to my readers you can use code RETRO10 at checkout to take 10% off.  Find it here:

Do you own any Sterilite? Let me know!

If you like this post, Read about INGRID's party balls here. 

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