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The History of Electric Can Openers

The first electric can opener was patented in 1931 by the Bunker Clancey Company of Kansas City, over half a century after the earliest standard can openers were invented. However, it didn’t catch on, in part because it was a bit ahead of its time — in 1931, many homes still did not have electricity. It wasn’t until 25 years later that electric can openers actually caught on. In the 1950s, Walter Hess Bodle and his daughter, Elizabeth, developed an electric can opener together in the family’s garage — Walter designed the blades and motor while Elizabeth sculpted the outside casing. The result? A free-standing electric can opener that could be placed on the kitchen counter. Walter and Elizabeth’s electric can opener hit store shelves in late 1956, just in time for the Christmas shopping season. It was produced under the Udico brand of the Union Die Casting Company. It was a very successful launch and over the next few years, the appliance was released in a variety of different styles and colors. Other brands also released their own versions of the electric can opener. It’s worth noting that there were few changes to the basic function and design created by the Bodles. And while they may be less popular than they were in years past, there are still many electric can openers on the market today from brands such as Hamilton Beach, Cuisinart, BELLA, and even Amazon Basics.

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