The beer can has a birthday: January 24, 1935. On this Thursday, Americans could buy beer in flat top steel cans for the first time, but only in Richmond, Virginia. This was the first market selected by Gottfried Krueger Brewery to try what was at the time a serious gamble. Would consumers want canned beer after years of glass bottles? After more than 25 years of research and testing, brewers (and can companies) would finally have an answer. Turns out, yes, they did. They wanted it badly. Come summer, Krueger needed American Can, the company that perfected the technology, to produce 180,000 cans a day to meet the demand.
The heavy cans could only be opened one way: with a church key, a long piece of metal, pointed at one end, that drinkers used to create two holes in the can's top. One was for drinking, the other to allow air to flow. Until the '60s, the flat top can dominated the market.