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Posted May 22, 2015

May 22, 2015 – From Church Key to Pull Tab: Opening beer and pop cans

5-22-15-Patent drawing for the Sta Tab 5-22-15-FallsCity_StatabAd 5-22-15-Ermal_Fraze

Friday, May 22, 2015

Beer and soda pop were originally sold in glass bottles. The first flat-topped beer can was marketed on January 24, 1935. Clicquot Club Ginger Ale was probably the first soda sold in a “cone-topped” can produced for retail distribution in late 1938. Flat-topped soda cans became popular in the 1950s. The challenge for beverage manufacturers was to produce a coated metal can that did not react with the beverage and change its flavor. The next challenge was to develop a way to open the can without an old-fashioned bottle opener, often referred to as a church key.

 

In 1959 Ermal “Ernie” Fraze, owner of the Dayton Reliable Tool Company, invented the pull tab opener for cans. While he did not receive a patent for his invention until 1967, Fraze convinced the Pittsburg Brewing Company to use his design. They introduced cans of Iron City Beer with pull tab openers in 1962. Within a few years pull tabs were used by US breweries across the country.

 

Pull tabs posed two problems. Millions of them were tossed on the ground and became a significant source of litter. People who didn’t want to litter dropped the pull tab in the can where it presented a choking hazard. Both problems were solved in 1975 with the introduction of the Sta Tab developed by Daniel F. Cudzik at Reynolds Metals Company. Now when the riveted ring was pulled up, the tab was pushed in and folded back against the top of the can. This principal design is still used on canned beverages today.

 

Photos:

Ermal “Ernie” Fraze

Iron City Beer can in 1962

Patent Drawing for the Sta Tab

Sta Tabs first introduced in Falls City


To commemorate the City of Troy’s 60th Anniversary in 2015, we will publish a different story each day that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 and that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context. We will include the facts related to controversial stories, allowing our readers to form their own opinions. We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TroyHistoricVillage. You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at ed@thvmail.org.

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