Patent No. 5011037A: Container End Member

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Today in 1991, US Patent 5011037 A was issued, an invention of Bruce A. Moen and Harold Cook, Jr., assigned to the Adolph Coors Company, for their “Container End Member.” This may win the prize for worst name. I understand that for industry, specific names are necessary for use in reducing confusion by the use of such jargon. For example, while the general public calls what holds a bottle sealed is a bottle cap, but within the industry it’s known as a crown. But calling the can top where it’s opened a “container end” actually seems more vague, although perhaps that really is the industry term. Anyway, here’s the Abstract:

A container end member is provided and has a first severable tab portion which is defined by a score line groove and has an integral hinge portion for permanently securing it to the container end member and a force applying tab portion permanently pivotally mounted on the container end member and used to apply a force on the first severable tab portion to form a pour opening in the container end member and a second severable tab portion having an integral hinge portion for permanently securing it to the container end member and having a raised surface projecting outwardly from the container end member so that a force may be applied thereto to sever the second severable tab portion and form a vent opening in the container end member.

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Patent No. 3807463A: Apparatus For Filling Beer Cans

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Today in 1974, US Patent 3807463 A was issued, an invention of W. Heckmann, H. Jordan, U. Knabe, K. Plock, K. Quest, F. Rademacher, and D. Unger, assigned to Holstein & Kappert Maschf, for their “Apparatus for Filling Beer Cans or the Like.” Here’s the Abstract:

The filling devices in an apparatus which fills beer cans orbit about a vertical axis and have upright housings supporting cylindrical centering members which carry deformable gaskets for the mouths of cans. Such canes are supported by a conveyor which orbits with the filling devices and is movable up and down or is held against vertical movement during rotation with the filling devices. The introduction of liquid into the cans takes place subsequent to introduction of a compressed gas, and such gas can be used to bias the gaskets against the mouths of cans during filling. When the filling of a can is completed, the pressure in its interior is increased to facilitate separation from the respective gasket. That supply of beer which remains in a channel of the housing on closing of the beer-admitting valve can be expelled in response to expansion of gas in a chamber which receives such gas by way of the container and is sealed from the container by beer in the channel. The expansion of gas in the chamber takes place in response to opening of a valve which reduces the pressure of gas above the body of liquid in the container.

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Patent No. 1756548A: Can-Filling Machine

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Today in 1930, US Patent 1756548 A was issued, an invention of Oswald H. Hansen, for his “Can-Filling Machine.” There’s no Abstract, but the description states that the “invention relates to improvements in the construction and operation of machines for automatically measuring and for placing measured batches of fluent substances into successive receptacles while they are transported in series through the machine.”
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Patent No. 2115335A: Can Filling Machine

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Today in 1938, US Patent 2115335 A was issued, an invention of Samuel A. Hurst and Harrie A. Keck, for their “Can Filling Machine.” There’s no Abstract, but the description states that the “invention relates to an improvement in’ machines for filling cans and other receptacles with various kinds of materials, and more particularly to an improvement in machines for filling receptacles.”
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Beer In Ads #1524: Tangy, English-Tavern Flavor


Monday’s ad is for Kent Ale, from 1935. It was made by the G. Krueger Brewing Co., who was the first to debut beer in cans earlier in the same year. Tis was the third of their beers they put in a can, after the first test in their Virginia market was so successful. What’s really interesting is the described the beer as an “India Pale Type Stock Ale,” which apparently has “tangy, English-tavern flavor.” I would have liked to have tasted that one.

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Patent No. 5405039A: Can For Beverage

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Today in 1995, US Patent 5405039 A was issued, an invention of Masahiro Komura, for his “Can For Beverage.” Here’s the Abstract:

A can for containing a beverage has a cylindrical body, a top lid for forming an opening through which the beverage can be drunk from the can, a small tab having a finger-receiving hole staked to a central portion of the top lid with a staking member, and a line of weakness defining the opening. This line is in the form of a segment of a circle centered about the staking member. This segment is between an approximately semicircular segment and a 90 degree segment.

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Patent No. 20070075089A1: Method Of Protecting The Open Top Of A Beer Can Against Contamination By Insects, Dirt And Debris

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Today in 2007, US Patent 20070075089 A1 was issued, an invention of Thomas Stein, for his “Method of Protecting the Open Top of a Beer Can and a Soda Can Against Contamination by Insects, Dirt And Debris.” Here’s the Abstract:

A cover for the open top of a soda can or beer can is substantially round and has a pair of parallel sides together with an annular bevel or chamfer to accommodate either a soda can or a beer can. The beer can has a larger diameter at its annular rim than that of the soda can, so that (in use) the cover is reversed. The cover may contain a trademark, logo, company name or message for promotional purposes. An alternate cover is substantially half-round, and a further embodiment is substantially arcuate.

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I think the best thing about his patent is the drawing illustrating all of the problems that this invention will fix or make better. They’re hilarious. How did we ever drink from cans before this?

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Patent No. 1996550A: Container Opener Or Church Key

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Today in 1935, US Patent 1996550 A was issued, an invention of John M. Hothersall and Dewitt F. Sampson, assigned to American Can Co., for their “Container Opener.” There’s no Abstract, but the description states that the “invention relates in general to container opening devices and more particularly to a punch opener for producing a substantial pouring opening in containers having projecting end scams or joints.” Essentially it’s a church key that includes a bottle opener, as well. Here’s how this church key is special:

The principal object of the invention is to provide a container opener which at one stroke or turning movement produces a substantial pouring opening in a wall of a container through which the contents, be they fluid or granular, may be readily dispensed.

Another important object of the invention is to provide a container opening punch or cutter adapted to work on the lever principle and which employs a projecting end joint of a container, for example, the end seam, as a fulcrum or pivot point about which the cutter may be rocked into opening position in a single arcuate movement.

Another important object of the invention is the provision of such a rocker punch whose operating parts are all adapted to be formed out of a single piece of steel or other suitable material in a few simple die operations, and which, because of its simplicity of construction, can be produced inexpensively and automatically with a view to supplying the public with an efficient opening tool at small cost.

Still another important object of the invention is the provision of such a punch opener which is adapted to produce a substantial and complete pouring opening quickly at one arcuate movement of the opener. While such rapidly and completely created opening is desirable in connection with containers filled with most products, dry or wet, from the standpoint of the time element, it lends itself exceptionally well to and solves a real problem in the opening of containers filled with effervescent liquids such as beer, where a quick and adequate opening will prevent ebullition and spilling of the contents.

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John Updike’s Paean To The Beer Can

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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.
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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.
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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.