Year
1935

First canned beer goes on sale

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.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Winston Churchill dies

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, the British leader who guided Great Britain and the Allies through the crisis of World War II, dies in London at the age of 90. Born at Blenheim Palace in 1874, Churchill joined the British Fourth Hussars upon his father’s death in 1895. ...read more

Japanese soldier found hiding on Guam

After 28 years of hiding in the jungles of Guam, local farmers discover Shoichi Yokoi, a Japanese sergeant who was unaware that World War II had ended. Guam, a 200-square-mile island in the western Pacific, became a U.S. possession in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. In 1941, ...read more

Von Paulus to Hitler: Let us surrender!

On this day, German Gen. Friedrich von Paulus, commander in chief of the German 6th Army at Stalingrad, urgently requests permission from Adolf Hitler to surrender his position there, but Hitler refuses. The Battle of Stalingrad began in the summer of 1942, as German forces ...read more

Truce is expected in Laos and Cambodia

National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger announces that a truce is expected in Laos and Cambodia. Kissinger had been meeting privately with Le Duc Tho and other North Vietnamese and Viet Cong representatives in Paris since early January. They had worked out a peace agreement ...read more

Mike Bossy scores 50th goal in 50 NHL games

On January 24, 1981, Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders scores his 50th goal in the first 50 games of the season, becoming only the second player in National Hockey League (NHL) history to achieve this mark. Born in Montreal, Quebec, Bossy made his NHL debut with the Islanders ...read more

Nixon honors Eugene Ormandy

On this day in 1970, President Richard Nixon travels to Philadelphia to present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Eugene Ormandy, the world-renowned conductor and music director of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. In keeping with tradition, the orchestra struck up Hail to ...read more

Gold discovered at Sutter’s Creek

A millwright named James Marshall discovers gold along the banks of Sutter’s Creek in California, forever changing the course of history in the American West. A tributary to the South Fork of the American River in the Sacramento Valley east of San Francisco, Sutter’s Creek was ...read more

Chile suffers killer quake

An 8.3-magnitude earthquake centered in south central Chile leaves 50,000 people dead and 60,000 injured on this day in 1939. The disaster came just 33 years after another terrible quake in Chile killed tens of thousands. Earthquakes in Chile are relatively common as virtually ...read more

Emmett Till murderers make magazine confession

On January 24, 1956, Look magazine publishes the confessions of J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, two white men from Mississippi who were acquitted in the 1955 kidnapping and murder of Emmett Louis Till, an African-American teenager from Chicago. In the Look article, titled “The ...read more