I blog primarily over at "geosciblog" (http://geosciblog.blogspot.com), I am doing this one for fun. It is inspired by 30+ years of beer can collecting and having tried more than 3,000 different American beers during that time. “. . . And beer was drunk with reverence, as it ought to be.” — G. K. Chesterton

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Just a Humble Masterpiece

I missed the 30th anniversary of an inauspicious, but important, environmental landmark.

30 years ago, in mid-1976, the Reynolds Sta-Tab made it's debut on Falls City and Drummond Brothers beer cans, from the Falls City Brewing Co., of Louisville, KY. This particular linked website was designed by a Falstaff enthusiast, I am not sure why he included Falls City, but I am thankful. Drummond Brothers Beer was a light beer marketed by Falls City and later by G. Heileman Brewing Co. (after Falls City closed) and finally the Evansville Brewing Co.. My first encounter with Drummond Brothers Beer was in the hot summer of 1976. I had been crawling around on a hot, granite outcrop (something that only geology students do). I retreated to my car and the ice chest for a cold beer. I opened the Sta-Tab and the beer was gone in 30 seconds.

When I did an internet search to find info on this important invention, I found this website that includes other "Humble Masterpieces" of American ingenuity on display at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, including Post-It Notes, Band Aids, Bic Pens, and tea bags.

So now that you are just "eat up" with anticipation, I will tell you why the Reynolds Sta-Tab is so darned important. It eliminated the detachable pull tab on beverage cans.

From the linked Alcoa webpage:

"...The invention of the Sta-Tab is credited to Daniel F. Cudzik, of Reynolds Metals in Richmond, VA. While other beverage can companies were working on similar designs, his became the industry standard, solving a variety of problems at once."

This invention alleviated the problems caused by an earlier invention, the pull tab, which was invented by Ermal C. Fraze in the early 1960s. Iron City Beer was the first brand to have the pull tab, while Schlitz was the first national brewer to include the feature. This website addresses this and other beer-can related bits of trivia.

For those of us over the age of 40, I am sure that we have memories of being cut by the early pull tabs, whether it was because we played with the darn things after we opened the cans or because we stepped on one at the beach or in a parking lot when going barefoot.

Before the Sta-Tab, there were other efforts at eliminating the detachable pull-tab (though I forget the industry names for them). Coors, Coca Cola, and Budweiser (1974/1975) had a large and a small circular tab, which pushed down into the can top. You pushed the small tab first, to relieve the pressure, then the larger one. Coors later (1977 or so) experimented with a larger, rounded triangular tab, but were threatened with a large law suit by some drunk fool that cut himself on one of them.

Jimmy Buffett's "Wasted Away in Margaritaville" makes reference to one of the greatest hazards of the pull tab.

"...I blew out my flip flop,
Stepped on a pop top;
Cut my heel, had to cruise on back home."
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