There are many old wives tales, and some young ones too, about the beginning of what we refer to fast food. One could argue that the butter churn, a swing away, or fireplace pot holder were not only life savers, but time savers. Naw, not enough to really brag about. There is at least one documented invention that has come to be known as THE KEY TO THE MODERN KITCHEN. It was the invention of the can opener by Ezra Warner, in 1858.
That we take such modern conveniences for granted is of little notice in today's modern kitchen. The first practical can opener was developed 50 years after the birth of the metal can. Canned food was invented as a space saver and food preservation technique by the British Navy in 1813. The early cans were made of solid iron, rather inconvenient as the cans usually weighed more than their contents! The inventor, Peter Durand, was a crafty dude indeed. Not a real visionary, however, as he missed one small detail. He figured out how to seal food into cans, but gave little thought to how to get that stuff out of his contraption!
His initial instructions read: "Cut round the top near the outer edge with a chisel and hammer." Whoa... It was only when much thinner steel cans came into vogue in the 1860s could a can opener be useful. The first patented can opener was issued in 1858, devised by our boy Ezra Warner of Waterbury, Connecticut, to resembled a heavy bent sickle. The intent was to drive the blade into the can's rim, then jimmy it around its edge. It really wasn't something that fit into the kitchen drawer, which is why it never left the local grocery store. The store clerk had to open each and every can before it left the counter!
The innovation of the modern can opener had rather humble beginning indeed, and it wasn't until a cutting wheel that rolled around the rim was invented by William Lyman of the United States in 1870 that it became a household item. The only change from the original crude but brilliant design was introduced by the Star Can Company of San Francisco in 1925, with the addition of a serrated rotation wheel.
Take away the fancy shaped carriers, wall attachments, colors and price, the basic principle continues to be used on almost every modern can opener used in our fancy pansy kitchens today. The first electric can opener, introduced in December 1931, was just a wire or two away from it's ancestor. Later, pull-open, or early pop tops, were patented by Ermal Fraze of Ohio, and hit the market in 1966.
Let's think of Ezra occasionally just to remember from whence we came.
It really didn't happen with the can . . .it happened with the can opener! :)