Beer Cans! You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby!


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As America has grown, so has its canned beer technology. Here’s a brief history of the parallel progress of the USA and beer in a can.

1. Flat Top Beer Cans

The flat top beer can was introduced by Krueger Brewing Company in 1933, a time in this country when men were men. As if the Great Depression wasn’t bad enough, opening a can of beer was a multi-step nightmare. A man had to pick up the beer, find a can opener and pick that up, then use the can opener to make not one but TWO holes on opposite sides of the can. With mettle and determination like that, it’s no wonder these American drinking men went on to win WWII and become known as the Greatest Generation. As a testament to these brave men (and as a way to jump into the retro-hipster thing), Adrian Grenier is trying to bring the flat top can back with his company Churchkey Can Co.

2. Pull Tab


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In the 1960s, America started asking itself some crazy questions, man. What if we drop acid and paint a school bus? Can a flower stop a bullet from coming out of a gun? What if a beer can had a can opener built INTO THE CAN?! That’s what famous hippie Ermal Fraze asked himself when he invented the first pull tab. Like a lot of ideas during the 1960s, over time it mostly proved to be incredibly annoying. The first pull tabs were ripped completely off the cans, resulting in sharp edges that would cut drinkers’ lips and create trash that would litter the sides of America’s beautiful highways.

3. Stay-On-Tab


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Many historians say the 1960s ended in 1969 at Altamont. Others believe the 1960s ended in 1977 when Daniel F. Cudzik invented the stay-on-tab that we still see on beer cans today. It was now the 1970s, and America was tired of having bloody lips and lots of litter. They were too busy having nose bleeds due to rampant cocaine use and weeping at that commercial of the Native American crying at piles of garbage. If it wasn’t for the stay-on-tab, who knows how America would have survived the energy crisis or Jefferson Airplane becoming Jefferson Starship.

4. Wide Mouth Can


It’s now the 1990s, and Americans have seen the rise of the personal computer and the Internet. With such advancements, they are demanding more of everything. Luckily, Coors is aware of the zeitgeist and introduces the widemouth can. This is the greatest enhancement to canned beer access since the pull tab. America was confident that it couldn’t get any better.

5. Color Changing Mountains

In the 21st century, Americans are more sedentary because of advancements in computers and video games. The entire drinking public is now getting winded because they have to reach and touch a beer to tell if it’s cold. Again, Coors comes to the rescue and introduces their cold-activated label where the mountains will turn blue when the beer is cold. Although it’s magical and convenient, is America’s dependence on technology now becoming more detrimental than beneficial?

6. Miller Punch Top Can


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Sometimes the best idea you have is the first one. Miller has embraced this theory with their new punch top can. With this can, Miller gets rid of the cold-activated color system, keeps the wide mouth and brings back the calorie-burning effort of the flat top can. It also probably makes it easier to shotgun a beer.

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Neal Stastny (@NealStas) is a New York comic who drinks beer for research.