Photography: Kristin Brown

Today we salute frosty American ingenuity.

On this day in 1935, Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company in Newark, New Jersey, changed our campfire habits forever—well, really, just our drinking habits while sitting around the fire, or anywhere. It was in 1935 when Krueger, established in 1858, released the first can of beer, made of beer, in the Richmond, Virginia, market.

The new product was a result of a risky endeavor to increase market share after the end of Prohibition. Through a partnership with American Can Company, in which they would install the canning machinery in the brewery and if the new packaging was a flop, American Can Company would remove the equipment and Krueger would be off the hook. To lessen the blow of a failure, Krueger decided to test the cans in Richmond. More than 300 miles away, the Virginia capital was distant enough for the brewery owners to feel a flop would not be a blow to Krueger’s core market. It was such a success that by the end of 1935, 36 brewers were distributing canned beer, according to Rustycans.com.

Photography: Kristin Brown

Canned beer quickly became the standard and a multimillion-dollar industry for nationally distributed beer companies. Craft beer producers, however eschewed canning as a characteristic of big beer. Instead, small, handcrafted brewing operations opted from draft-only or bottling. That is until 2002, when Oskar Blues Brewery began canning Dale’s Pale Ale in 2002.

Now, when this writer reaches in his fridge for a beer it’s likely a Dallas-based Four Corners Brewing Company canned release with a 360 End lid, which pulls the top clean off, allowing for easy drinking from the can. No pesky pint glass necessary.

To Krueger and American Can Company, tonight, when I get home, I will pop open one of the aforementioned beers, raise it, and say, “I sure do ’ppreciate you.”

 

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