First canned beer goes on sale 1935
Canned beer makes its debut on this day in 1935. In partnership with the American Can Company, the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company delivered 2,000 cans of Krueger’s Finest Beer and Krueger’s Cream Ale to faithful Krueger drinkers in Richmond, Virginia. Ninety-one percent of the drinkers approved of the canned beer, driving Krueger to give the green light to further production.
By the late 19th century, cans were instrumental in the mass distribution of foodstuffs, but it wasn’t until 1909 that the American Can Company made its first attempt to can beer. This was unsuccessful, and the American Can Company would have to wait for the end of Prohibition in the United States before it tried again. Finally in 1933, after two years of research, American Can developed a can that was pressurized and had a special coating to prevent the fizzy beer from chemically reacting with the tin.
The concept of canned beer proved to be a hard sell, but Krueger’s overcame its initial reservations and became the first brewer to sell canned beer in the United States. The response was overwhelming. Within three months, over 80 percent of distributors were handling Krueger’s canned beer, and Krueger’s was eating into the market share of the “big three” national brewers–Anheuser-Busch, Pabst and Schlitz. Competitors soon followed suit, and by the end of 1935, over 200 million cans had been produced and sold.
The purchase of cans, unlike bottles, did not require the consumer to pay a deposit. Cans were also easier to stack, more durable and took less time to chill. As a result, their popularity continued to grow throughout the 1930s, and then exploded during World War II, when U.S. brewers shipped millions of cans of beer to soldiers overseas. After the war, national brewing companies began to take advantage of the mass distribution that cans made possible, and were able to consolidate their power over the once-dominant local breweries, which could not control costs and operations as efficiently as their national counterparts.
Today, canned beer accounts for approximately half of the $20 billion U.S. beer industry. Not all of this comes from the big national brewers: Recently, there has been renewed interest in canning from microbrewers and high-end beer-sellers, who are realizing that cans guarantee purity and taste by preventing light damage and oxidation.
(More Events on This Day in History)
- 1781 Light Horse and Swamp Fox raid Georgetown, South Carolina
- 1871 Albert Erskine, Studebaker chief, is born
- 1865 Confederate Congress to resume prisoner exchanges
- 1980 U.S. announces military equipment sales to China
- 1956 Emmett Till murderers make magazine confession
- 1939 Chile suffers killer quake
- 1908 Boy Scouts movement begins
- 1965 Winston Churchill dies
- 1972 Japanese soldier found hiding on Guam
- 2006 Walt Disney announces $7.4 billion purchase of Pixar
- 1862 Edith Wharton is born
- 1967 Aretha Franklin’s career is reborn
- 1848 Gold discovered at Sutter’s Creek
- 1970 Nixon honors Eugene Ormandy
- 1981 Mike Bossy scores 50th goal in 50 NHL games
- 1966 Operation Masher/White Wing/Thang Phong II launched
- 1973 Truce is expected in Laos and Cambodia
World War I
- 1915 British and German navies battle at the Dogger Bank
World War II
- 1943 Von Paulus to Hitler: Let us surrender!