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MUSEUM MUSINGS: Tapacan taps the Boone beer market

By David Holsted, published in the Harrison Daily Times, May 7, 2020

An ad in the October 23, 1935, edition of the Harrison Daily Times understood the plight of many households.

Of course you had to keep milk in the refrigerator, but where in the world was one supposed to keep the beer?

Fortunately, there was an answer.

“SAVE SPACE IN THE REFRIGERATOR! No need to take up room on the shelf where you keep milk. KEGLINED TapaCan fits easily on any of the shelves and saves half the space.”

The Henry Gramling Company, a Harrison distributor, introduced Pabst Export Beer in the newfangled Keglined cans. The company’s ad touted several advantages of the canned brew (wasn’t it enough that it saved space in the refrigerator?).

The brewery goodness was sealed right in.

The flavor was protected from light.

There were no deposits.

There were no return of bottles. “No need to gather up ’empties’ and carry them back. You paid no deposits, you need not bother with refunds.”

The cans were easy to carry. And if you dropped them – don’t worry – the Tapacans would not break.

The cans cooled faster. “Just put a supply in the refrigerator and you will be surprised how quickly it will be cool enough to serve.”

An accompanying story in the Daily Times said that Gramling distributed 12-ounce cans of Pabst instead of bottles. Several local retailers had picked up the product.

“A special can opener is provided which punches a hole that permits the beverage to be served from the can,” The Times reported.

Pabst became the first brewery to can its beer. Less than two years after the repeal of Prohibition, Pabst introduced its new beer in Tapacans on July 4, 1935. The substance chosen to “kegline” the insides of cans was vinylite. That was the same polymer used in making vinyl records. Before Christmas of 1935, over 75 million cans of beer were sold.

During World War II, beer cans were painted olive drab, and all canned beer went to the military. Beer wasn’t sold to civilians because of tin rationing.

A 1935 Pabst Export Beer in a Tapacan recently sold on eBay for $280.

This is article is part of a series about Boone County history and provided by the Boone County Heritage Museum. The museum is located at 124 South Cherry in Harrison. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday. Closed on Sunday and Wednesday. For more information on the museum, call 741-3312 or email

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