TOPS > 75th Anniversary > TOPS’ First 75 Years

TOPS’ First 75 Years

From an ‘Upstairs Kitchen Area’ to an International Organization

When Esther Manz came up with the idea of TOPS Club, she was using what she knew.

Esther went to school and became a teacher before starting her family. She knew that knowledge and support were incredibly important.

Teachers need to share their knowledge with their students, and it takes the support of a community to motivate an individual to change. Esther realized this would take some research to make it all happen and come together.

As any good teacher would, Esther collected information to help with this.

She talked to Dr. C.W. McDonald, her daughter’s doctor, who was working to help women lose weight, post-partum. Esther discussed with him whether the social aspect of having people support one another would work. They agreed that this simple psychology of group support to help people follow a plan provided by their doctor would be effective.

This marked the start of TOPS Club.

After talking to Helen Webster, head of the Beulah Brinton Social Center, about using an upstairs kitchen area, which was equipped with a large table to host meetings, word spread.

No one had heard of doing such a thing—losing weight as a collective, group effort— and when people started to drop pounds, it really caught fire. Nothing beats seeing success firsthand.

As word spread, more chapters had to be formed, because there were too many members to meet in one location. It didn’t take long before there were chapters popping up all over.

Esther spread the word about TOPS in every way possible. She got out information with the help of radio, newspapers and television. She wrote her own copy, and appeared on the radio weekly, talking about TOPS.

Esther always resisted making TOPS commercial. She was proud of its grassroots start, and even today, that legacy remains—TOPS is still a nonprofit organization, a 501(c)3.