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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Beer...in Cans!

This Day in History: January 24, 1935


The Very First Beer Can
The word for today is not just beer but CANNED beer! Timing was perfect since Prohibition in the U.S. had ended at the end of 1933. The thirst for whiskey and beer had never ceased but simply made harder to quench during the years 1920 - 1933. Bootlegging (rum-running) had become widespread and organized crime took control of the distribution of alcohol. With Prohibition being lifted, new and inventive ways of alcohol distribution were on the drawing board.

In actuality, the idea of the beer can evolved much earlier via a carefully chosen test market of Richmond, VA. Since 1909 the American Can Co. had been experimenting with packaging beer in cans. Why? Did advantages exist? Of course, but not without challenges. Let's take a look...
Advantages - Where the glass bottles were weighty, the cans were light weight being they were made of cheap aluminum, thus reducing shipping costs. Cans were not breakable, dent maybe, but they would not chip or crack. Bottles were returnable but each had to be hand sorted for the slightest cracks or chips in the glass made them unusable. The can offered a larger, smoother surface which provided greater area for the labeling. Marketing was a huge factor in the development and progression of the beer can.

Challenges - Beer reacted unfavorably with some metals. What good would come from the can if the beverage were undrinkable? The pressure of carbonated beer was also challenging for the cans would have to be able to contain up to 80 pounds per inch of pressure!
Krueger Finest Beer - Cone Top Can
In the late 1920s, Pabst and Anheuser-Busch were already sensing and preparing for the eventual end of Prohibition. Thus, the canned idea earlier was brought forward to the American Can Co. By the 1930s, the pressure problem was solved and a strong enough can to withstand the pressure evolved. Voila! The beer industry changed forever!

The Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company in Newark, New Jersey was the first to submit their beer to the American Can Co. for packaging. In order to use the bottling lines already established, the first can was designed with a cone top much like the original bottles. As breweries went out of business or upgraded their equipment, the cone top cans slowly disappeared and by 1960 were gone entirely. Thus, entered the pop top, which has its own story!

Vintage Beer Cans