There are some pretty cool websites relating to history out there on the web. Some aim to educate, others aim to preserve. For this week, starting March 6, our cool website recommendation of the week is:
Sound isn’t something we tend to think of as historical. But someone born today will never know the jarring noise of dialup internet, a rotary phone, or the iconic Nokia ringtone. This site aims to preserve these sounds for future generations. It’s a fairly cool site to play on, and you can have several of the recordings playing at once for that truly late 80’s early 90’s ambiance. If only they included a recording of someone shouting to get off the internet because they were on the phone…..
People don’t tend to think about the can their beer is stored in, if indeed it is in a can, and not a bottle. The first beer can was developed in Jersey City, NJ at a company called the “American Can Company”, for the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company. In 1935, the first 2,000 cans were delivered in Richmond Virginia. These early cans are not quite as familiar as the cans being used today. The pull-tab wasn’t yet invented, and the cans were not the light aluminum of today’s cans. The pull-tab wouldn’t be invented until 1959 by Ermal Fraze. The first beer cans were either opened with a chisel and hammer, churchkey, or a can opener, whichever was closest at hand.
Canning was originally invented in 1809 by Nicolas Appert in France as a way to store food for long periods of time without it going bad. By 1812 the first American canning factory had opened in New York City. While canning worked well for food, canning beer without losing the taste, carbonation, or color was difficult. The beer can also had to be able to withstand a much higher internal pressure. Food cans tend to have an internal pressure of around 35 pounds per square inch. Beer cans need to be able to handle pressures of 80 pounds per square inch- considerably higher than the standard cans for food.
Despite these challenges, canning beer was a lucrative idea. Cans were easier to store, easier to ship, and faster to fill. The American Can Company thickened the walls and seams of the cans and lined them with Vinylite. This plastic lining kept the metal from contacting the beer and contaminating the taste. Other canners, such as Continental and National Can Company, would later use enamel or enamel and wax.
Finally, in 1935, the first cans were filled and ready. The Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company delivered 2000 cans to Richmond Virginia to test the response of consumers. And they loved it! 91% of those who tried it approved, leading Krueger to approve larger runs of the canned beer. Other brewers and canners quickly followed suit.
Some brewers were unable or unwilling to change their bottling lines to suit cans over glass bottles, so the “cone top” can quickly became popular as well.
The beer can would continue to evolve. In 1962, the easy open pull tab was added to the design of most beer cans. This allowed for the cans to be opened without having to use any tools, similar to the cans we use today. These weren’t fixed to the cans and were easily removed until 1975 when the fixed version we use today entered the canning world.
Today, the sale of beer cans has outpaced the sale of bottled beer. Which do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below! Like what I do and want to leave a tip? Click on the coffee cup on the left!
This one is very cool. Beer is one of humanity’s oldest creations, with evidence of beer production going as far back as 13,000 years ago. For context, the Ancient Sumerian civilization is estimated to have started roughly 6000 years ago. Beer in the ancient times was pretty different from what we have today. The Natufian beer named in the article above, was more of a thin porridge, as was the early beer discovered in China and Egypt. The alcohol content was much lower, and beer probably played an important role in rituals, not just daily life.