Church key

A churchkey or church key is an American term for various kinds of bottle openers and can openers.


The term in the beverage-opening sense is apparently not an old one; Merriam-Webster finds written attestation only since the 1950s.[1] Several themes exist, the most popular being when you cut yourself, opening a can or bottle, you take the Lord's name in vain.[2]


A churchkey initially referred to a simple hand-operated device for prying the cap (called a "crown cork") off a glass bottle; this kind of closure was invented in 1892, although there is no evidence that the opener was called a "church key" at that time.[3] The shape and design of some of these openers did resemble a large simple key.[4]

In 1935, beer cans with flat tops were marketed, and a device to puncture the lids was needed. The same term, "church key", came to be used for this new invention: made from a single piece of pressed metal, with a pointed end used for piercing cans — devised by D.F. Sampson[5][6] for the American Can Company, who depicted operating instructions on the cans,[7] and typically gave away free "quick and easy" openers with their beer cans.[8]

See also


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