Can openers a brief history lesson (PDF) by MonikaKam


Can openers – a brief history lesson

Word Count:

Many people tend to assume that can
s and can openers were invented aro
und the same time

cans, openers, ringpull

Article Body:
Many people tend to assume that can
s and can openers were invented aro
und the same time, as it is now con
sidered essential to have a can ope
ner in order to open a can. This is
 not, in fact, the case: cans were
invented in the early 19th century,
 in order to store food for the nav
y, while can openers weren’t invent
ed until a man named Ezra Warner ca
me up with the idea half a decade l
ater. In the meantime, people had t
o come up with creative ways to ope
n the cans, often using sharp knive
s, or a hammer and chisel.

The can opener we all know and love
 today dates back to 1925, although
 it was only a minor modification t
o the original 1870 design, adding
a jagged edge to the cutting wheel.
 It is a testament to their utility
 that the only change since has bee
n the introduction of electric can
openers, but electric can openers a
re still by no means ubiquitous, an
d it is rare to find a kitchen that
 doesn’t possess a can opener in th
e classic design

Even though pull-to-open cans were
invented 50 years ago, people still
 open millions of cans every day us
ing can openers, as cans are much c
heaper to manufacture when they don
’t include a ringpull. There is als
o a certain nostalgia value in open
ing a can with a can opener if you
haven’t done it for a while – altho
ugh it can also be a little dangero
us if you cut yourself on the sharp
 metal edge of the can’s top.

However, the classic wheel design i
s not the only kind of can opener a
round. Another one that is very com
mon is the P-38 pocket can opener,
used in the army and often given ou
t with food aid in the developing w
orld. It is much cheaper to make th
an a normal can opener, as it uses
much less metal, consisting only of
 a metal blade with a ‘hook’. For t
he experienced, it can even be much
 faster to use than a normal can op
ener, and it is certainly easier to
 carry and store.

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