Patent No. 2707827A: Combined Can Holder And Opener

Today in 1955, US Patent 2707827 A was issued, an invention of Fred W. Petram, for his “Combined Can Holder and Opener.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

This invention relates to can openers and more particularly to a combined can opener and holder.

It is a principal object of the present invention to provide a device which may be efficiently and easily used in opening and holding a can of beer or a can of juice or similar material, the construction consisting entirely of one piece.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a combined can holder and opener of the above type which is adapted to snap on to the upper lip of the can at the end of the device remote from the can opening portion, the latter being resiliently retained against the lower lip of the can with the device intermediate its ends curving outwardly to provide a grasping portion.


Patent No. 2280336A: Protector For Beer Can Openers

Today in 1942, US Patent 2280336 A was issued, an invention of Herman J. Maihack, for his “Protector For Beer Can Openers.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

This invention relates to protectors for beer can openers, and the like, andy has for one of its objects the production of a. simple and efficient means in the nature of a hood or cap which is adapted to be carried by a piercing can opener so as to overhang the pierced opening within the top of a can and prevent the spray of beer or other liquid outwardly through the opening which is being cut in the top of the can.

A further object of this invention is the production of a simple and efficient means for attaching the protector to the well-known type of piercing opener.


John Updike’s Paean To The Beer Can

Today is one of my favorite author’s birthdays, John Updike. He grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town that I did — Shillington — and we both escaped to a life of writing. Though I think you’ll agree he did rather better than I did with the writing thing, not that I’m complaining. I once wrote to him about a harebrained idea I had about writing updated Olinger stories from the perspective of the next generation (his Olinger Stories were a series of short tales set in Olinger, which was essentially his fictional name for Shillington). He wrote me back a nice note of encouragement on a hand-typed postcard that he signed, which today hangs in my office as a reminder and for inspiration. Anyway, this little gem he wrote for the The New Yorker in 1964 is a favorite of mine and I now post it each year in his honor. Enjoy.

Beer Can by John Updike

This seems to be an era of gratuitous inventions and negative improvements. Consider the beer can. It was beautiful — as beautiful as the clothespin, as inevitable as the wine bottle, as dignified and reassuring as the fire hydrant. A tranquil cylinder of delightfully resonant metal, it could be opened in an instant, requiring only the application of a handy gadget freely dispensed by every grocer. Who can forget the small, symmetrical thrill of those two triangular punctures, the dainty pfff, the little crest of suds that foamed eagerly in the exultation of release? Now we are given, instead, a top beetling with an ugly, shmoo-shaped tab, which, after fiercely resisting the tugging, bleeding fingers of the thirsty man, threatens his lips with a dangerous and hideous hole. However, we have discovered a way to thwart Progress, usually so unthwartable. Turn the beer can upside down and open the bottom. The bottom is still the way the top used to be. True, this operation gives the beer an unsettling jolt, and the sight of a consistently inverted beer can might make people edgy, not to say queasy. But the latter difficulty could be eliminated if manufacturers would design cans that looked the same whichever end was up, like playing cards. What we need is Progress with an escape hatch.

Now that’s writing. I especially like his allusion to the beauty of the clothespin as I am an unabashed lover of clothespins.

In case you’re not as old and curmudgeonly as me — and who is? — he’s talking about the transition to the pull-tab beer can (introduced between 1962-64) to replace the flat punch-top can that required you to punch two triangular holes in the top of the can in order to drink the beer and pour it in a glass.
pull-top-can punch-top-can
The pull-tab (at left) replaced the punch top (right).

Originally known as the Zip Top, Rusty Cans has an informative and entertaining history of them. Now you know why a lot of bottle openers still have that triangle-shaped punch on one end.

So essentially, he’s lamenting the death of the old style beer can which most people considered a pain to open and downright impossible should you be without the necessary church key opener. He is correct, however, that the newfangled suckers were sharp and did cut fingers and lips on occasion, even snapping off without opening from time to time. But you still have to laugh at the unwillingness to embrace change (and possibly progress) even though he was only 32 at the time; hardly a normally curmudgeonly age.

Patent No. 4996823A: Method Of Packaging A Beverage And A Package Structure

Today in 1991, US Patent 4996823 A was issued, an invention of William J. Byrne, assigned to Arthur Guinness Son & Company, for his “Method of Packaging a Beverage and a Package Structure.” Here’s the Abstract:

Method of packaging a beverage and a package structure has a cylindrical tube 1 over an end 3 of which is located a partition 2 having restricted orifice and both are sealed, for example by crimping, to the rim of tube 1. Primary chamber 4 is formed within the tube and secondary chamber 8 is formed between the partition 2 and closure 7 which chambers communicate through orifice 6. Chamber 4 is charged with beverage 11 containing gas in solution and sealed with end wall 12 crimped to the rim 9 of the tube 1. Prior to sealing chamber 9 is dosed with liquid nitrogen or carbon dioxide so that headspace 13 is pressurized. The package adjusts to a state of equilibrium in which beverage flows into the secondary chamber 8 to form headspace 14 therein. Upon opening of the package with pull tag 15 a pressure differential between the headspaces 14 and 13 causes beverage and/or gas in chamber 8 to be ejected through orifice 6 into beverage 11 and thereby gas in solution in the beverage to be liberated and form, or assist in the formation of, a head of froth on the beverage.


Patent No. 7882975B2: Double Walled Beverage Container

Today in 2011, US Patent 7882975 B2 was issued, an invention of Jason M. Kelly, assigned to Miller Coors, LLC, for his “Double Walled Beverage Container and Method of Making Same.” Here’s the Abstract:

A double walled container is provided for insulating a beverage. An outer insulating shell or container is secured to the inner container that holds the beverage. A gap exists between the outer container and inner container and the air in the gap acts as an insulating barrier. The inner container is preferably a standard aluminum container. The outer container is preferably made from aluminum or a plastic polymer.




A Beer Can Timeline

Today is Beer Can Appreciation Day, because on this day in 1935, the first cans of beer were sold. Cans of “Krueger Cream Ale” were sold by the Kruger Brewing Company in Richmond, Virginia, with other breweries following suit the very same year. Here’s some fun resources about the history of the beer can. First, there’s a History of the Can (that’s all cans) while Rusty Cans has a more beer-centric timeline. Keglined has An Illustrated History of the American Beer Can and Timeline has another history that goes back to ancient times. And CraftCans has this infographic timeline showing “8 Decades of Canned Beer.”

Click here to see the timeline full size.

Patent No. 3074678A: Beer Can Holder

Today in 1963, US Patent 3074678 A was issued, an invention of John Michael Mele, for his “Beer Can Holder.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

My invention relates to holders for cans containing beverages and more particularly to beer can holders.

As the pouring out of the cold beer into a glas will raise the temperature of the beer and also will reduce its gas content, it is considered preferable by many persons to drink the beer directly from the can through an opening cut in the cover of the can.

One of the important objects of my invention is to provide a convenient handle for the holding of the beer can and thereby eliminate the inconvenience of a direct contact between the fingers and the cold and moist beer can.

Another important object of my invention is to provide a beer can holder which collects the beer which may be accidentally spilled when cutting the opening in the cover of the can, thereby preventing the soiling of the table cover.

A further object of my invention is to provide a beer can holder which is very simple in construction, economical in manufacture, and which offers a very secure clamping of the beer can in the holder, eliminating the possibility of the rotation of the beer can in the holder and the resultant displacement of the discharge opening of the cover in relation with the handle.


Patent No. 3554400A: Nonflipping Beer Can End

Today in 1971, US Patent 3554400 A was issued, an invention of John S. Bozek, assigned to the Continental Can Co., for his “Nonflipping Beer Can End.” Here’s the Abstract:

An easy opening end particularly adapted for use on beverage cans, said end including an end panel, weakening line formed in said end panel and defining a removable tearout portion which extends generally from the central portion of said end panel to the periphery of said end panel, and a circumferential rib in said end panel, said rib being generally C-shaped in outline and having opposite ends terminating adjacent said tearout portion and reinforcing said end panel around said tearout portion to prevent premature rupturing of said can end along said weakening line, and a pull tab secured to said tearout portion for effecting the removal thereof, said rib being depressed to define an upwardly opening groove, and said pull tab having a free end overlying said groove whereby clearance is provided between said pull tab free end and said end panel to facilitate the initial lifting of said pull tab.


Patent No. 2698994A: Beer Can Opener

Today in 1955, US Patent 2698994 A was issued, an invention of Walter M. Hansen, for his “Beer Can Opener.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

This invention relates to a can opening device and more particularly to a high speed opener of the performating type.

The conventional practice of storing liquids for customer consumption in cans has presented a problem for operators of restaurants and taverns who necessarily handle a large volume of canned liquids in this form such as beer and fruit juices. The usual practice is to punch a hole in the tops of the cans through which the content is poured into the customers glass. Prior to this time such a can punching operation has not only proved dangerous and laborious but also time consuming in that seldom was the punch conveniently located and its use required two hands, one hand to hold the can while the other hand was used to do the punching. Injuries are likely to occur in case of slippage of the can from the hand of the opener.

It is therefore among the objects and purposes of this invention to provide a high speed can opener requiring only a straight thrust by one hand of the operator used to grasp the can wherein a pivoted cutting blade is brought into cutting engagement with the top of the can.


Patent No. 19063A: Can Opener

Today in 1858, US Patent 19063 A was issued, an invention of Ezra J. Warner, for his “Can Opener.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

I have invented a new and useful Improvement` in Instruments for Cutting Open Sealed Tin Cans and Boxes; and I do hereby declare that the following is a full, clear, and exact description of the construction, character, and operation of the same, reference being had to the accompanying drawings, which make a part of this specification, in which- Figure l, is a view of the whole instrument, showing the looped bar, (as Fig. 5,) swung across the piercer bar. Fig. 2, is a view of the same, showing another position of the looped bar. Fig. 3, is a view of the shaft, with the piercer bar. Fig. 4, is a view of the curved cutter, (as in Figs. l and 2). Fig. 5, is a view of the looped bar, (as in Figs. 1 and 2.)

I make the shank, A, (including t-he piercer-bar, B,) of steel, substantially, as represented in Figs. l, 2, and 3, with a suitable handle, as C, Figs. l and 2, and I make the point of the piercer bar, B, substantially, in the form represented at d, Figs. l, 2, &c., I make the curved cutter, a, of cast steel, substantially in the form shown in Figs. l, 2, and 4, and attach it to the shank, A, (as at 5,) by passing the end, a, Fig. 4, into a dovetail slot, so that it may be readily removed, in case of its being injured, or when I desire to change the position of the cutting edge from one side of the looped or swinging bar c, to the other or to have it cut in the center, between the two sides, and I bevel the edge on either side, or on both sides, according to the position in which it is to be placed for cutting. I make the looped bar, c, of steel, or any other suitable material, substantially in the form shown in Fig. 5, (and indicated in Figs. 1 and 2,) and attach it to the piercer bar, B, (near its end,) by a fulcrum or joint pin, as shown at c, Figs. l and 2, (and indicated in Fig. 3,) so that it may readily swing, or rock, from the position shown in Fig. 1 to that shown in Fig. 2.

To use this instrument, I swing the loop bar substantially to the position shown at c, in Fig. l, take hold of the handle, C, and press the point, a, of the piercer-bar, B, through the tin in the desired place, turn the instrument, and insert the point of the curved cutter, a, through the perforation already made, (when the looped or swinging bar, c, will be substantially in the position shown in Fig. 2,) and work the handle, C, (in the manner of a brake.) Then the handle, C, is moved in the direction indicated by the dart in Fig. 2, the loop bar, c, will be held against the surface of the tin, while the curved cutter, a, will be forced between its parts and cut the tin smoothly through, and when the handle is moved in the opposite direction the instrument may be pushed forward for another cut, and so on, thus allowing the operator to cut as fast as he can move his hand.

The advantages of my improvement over all other instruments for this purpose consist in the smoothness and rapidity of the cut, as well as the ease with which it is worked, as a child may use it without difficulty, or risk, and in making the curved cutter susceptible of being removed, so that if one should be injured it may be replaced by another, thus saving all the other portions of the instrument, and consequently much expense, and in that the piercer will perforate the tin without causing the liquid to fly out, as it does in all those which make the perforation by percussion of any kind.