Flat tops have FLAT Tops. Sounds like the answer to one of those early questions on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" The flat top is probably what you are used to seeing today. They were originally made of steel though... and weighed in at a hefty 4 oz! A case of 24 cans weighed six pounds empty! Today, aluminum has reduced the weight to just a fraction of that. The openers (once called 'churchkeys') were really huge... often over 5" long and heavy enough to puncture the heavy steel tops. Click here to enlarge
Note the can on the left has been opened by a churchkey.
Cone-top cans look like the one at the left. They have a sort of spout on the top. They were pretty much the earliest of the cans made in the US. The first Cone Tops were made in 1935,
The popularity of the Cone Top was more practical than functional. Before 1935, most of the breweries shipped beer in bottles. Production lines were geared for filling bottles. Because of this, the brewers, especially the smaller regional breweries, could use their existing bottle production lines to fill Cone Top Cans with little modification. Cone Tops were produced for about 25 years, but 1960 or so, the large breweries had bought out (or pushed out) the regionals and the Flat Top Pull Tab can was catching hold
NOTE: There are four basic types of cone-top cans. Low Profile, High Profile and J-spout and the Crowntainer (made by Crown Cork and Seal Company, the inventors of the bottle cap.
Self Opening Cans! What will they think of next. No churchkey, no bottle top... nothing! 1963 was the year Iron City beer made its debut in a Puill Tab can. The change revolutionized the industry... not only beer but soft drinks as well.
You simply stuck your finger into a ring and yanked! By 1965, over 70% of the cans were Pull Tops. Their popularity lasted about a decade until environmentalists and health professionals caused such a furor that the industry was forced to look for a replacement product. The result was the Stay Tab.
Notice in the detail that the tab actually pulled away from the can. NOW what did you do with it? That question was answered by the Stay Tab Can in use today.
Who doesn't remember the fiasco caused by Pull Tabs? Those of you who weren't' around in the 60's I guess!
If you never had the pleasure of cutting your foot on a beach by stepping on a discarded Pull Tab... oh well. Pull tabs were a disaster. Highways and parks were littered as were the beaches, rivers, and even the deserts.
Stay tabs were invented around 1975 and had one huge benefit. The TAB stayed with the CAN. Today, all soda, beer and other carbonated drinks are produced in cans with stay tabs.