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The History of Soda Cans

Although beer had already started to be packaged in cone-shaped cans with crown bottle top seals, Massachusetts-based Clicquot Club became one of the very first companies to debut canned soda in 1938. Their initial run was for 100,000 cases of their best-selling soda, ginger ale. Soon after, other soda brands began packaging their wares in cone-top cans as well. Soda manufacturers included interior liners in their cans. They were usually made of a waxy or plastic material and designed to keep the acidic, carbonated soda from having a chemical reaction with the metal of the can. Unfortunately, most canned soda still had a metallic aftertaste and consumers were understandably not impressed. It took almost two decades for soda companies to come up with special linings that were acid-resistant, but they were eventually successful. Around that same time, Ermal “Ernie” Fraze invented the pull tab, which was quickly embraced. This meant that in a relatively short period of time, the dominant soda can design had shifted from a cone top to a flat top that required a hole to be punched, then finally landed on the much more convenient flat top with pull tab design. It was at this point that consumers began to truly embrace canned soda. In 1960, Coca-Cola broke away from selling their soda in bottles and introduced their first widely distributed canned soda. It featured a sketch outline of the famous Coca-Cola bottle so that consumers would know what they were getting. Around the same time, beverage manufacturers began to switch from tin-plated steel cans to aluminum cans. In 1967, both Coca-Cola and Pepsi officially adopted aluminum soda cans. In 1975, Reynolds Metals launched the stay-on-tab, or Sta-Tab, which was developed by a Reynolds engineer and allowed the little pop tab to stay attached to the can, reducing the pop-top tabs that had previously littered many beaches, parking lots, and other gathering places. Today’s soda cans still use this feature, while vintage cans are sometimes sold as collector’s items.

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