Why Don't All Food Cans Have Pull Tabs?

Almost everyone has a can opener — either electric or hand-held — but it’s way more convenient if that can comes with a pull tab. So, why do some cans have them, while others don't? The story goes that in 1959, an engineer named Ernie Fraze, from Dayton, Ohio, was enjoying a family picnic when he realized that he had forgotten to bring a “church key” — an old school can opener that was used to open cans. He searched for something to open the can and settled on the bumper of his car, which resulted in a messy beer geyser. That’s when Fraze vowed to come up with an invention that would eliminate the need for a church key at all. In 1963, he patented the “easy open” lid, a scored aluminum top that could be popped open and peeled back with a pull tab. Unfortunately, not all cans come with a pull tab, and it all comes down to cost. Easy open cans are more expensive than those that require a can opener because there are more steps the manufacturing process. The extra material and tooling costs money, which is passed on to consumers in the price of the pull tab can. According to surveys, American consumers are willing to pay 40¢ more for a can with a pull tab, which is why you’re more likely to find them on name-brand items with a higher price tag.