Stale Economy, Fresh Leftovers?

Philip Maravilla is a CBS News producer based in Miami.

I read a short business-page article that said Tupperware stock was at a 10-year high, and I asked myself why.

Why, when so many companies are struggling – and some are even laying off employees – was Tupperware bucking the trend? What made it different? The simple answer is that Tupperware, in some ways, is a counter-cyclical company. When the economy is slowing, people eat out less, cook at home more and need a way to store leftovers. Tupperware and leftover storage are synonymous. Tupperware is the Xerox and Kleenex of food storage.

But what really got my attention was an animation that plays on the Tupperware Web site. The Web site actively taps anxiety about the economy, displaying data about layoffs and other negative economic news, and uses it as a recruiting tool. Again, I asked myself why. When people are laid off or need extra cash to supplement the family budget, they turn to part-time jobs like those Tupperware offers.

Tupperware CEO Rick Goings says simply: "A downturn in the economy makes for good business … when economies are soft, you usually have higher unemployment, and when there's higher unemployment there's a bigger recruiting pool. And the No. 1 driver for direct sell companies is recruiting a sales force. So it makes it easier for us."

Tupperware has been around for a long time. I bet there is a piece or three in your cabinets or fridge. The company has been witness to plenty of ups and downs in the American economy. If the economy stays stale, there is a chance that a few more pieces will grace your kitchen.