Why Are Hawaiian Soda Cans Different?

  • By: Max S.
  • Date: December 23, 2022
  • Time to read: 7 min.

Hawaii is known for its beautiful and colorful beaches. Its beaches are endowed with sands of many colors, including pink, black, red, and other spectacular colors, making this state an outstanding vacation spot.

However, Hawaii does not only stand out for its beaches; this state also has different shapes and sizes of canned drinks.

If you were born in the middle or late ’80s and for your first time in Hawaii you are served a canned Pepsi with neck ridges, your first thought may be to return the soda and ask for a good can, or you may be glad to have a vacation story to tell your friends finally.

In any case, you will not be wrong to have any of these reactions, as cans in Hawaii are different from regular soda cans in other states. 

Hawaii has only one canning facility in Kapolei and is the only establishment in the US still producing these cans. Ball Corp owns this canning facility. It churns out approximately 300 million cans that are supplied to local distributors, which include Coca-cola, PepsiCo, Hawaiian Sun, and Maui Brewing Co., among others.

So, why are Hawaiian soda cans different? Read on to find out. Also, you can read here to learn everything about root beer barrels.

Why Do Soda Cans In Hawaii Look Different?

Why Do Soda Cans In Hawaii Look Different?

Hawaiian cans may be different from the regular cans we have now, but they have been the same cans since the 1960s and 70s. During this period, manufacturers produced cans with ridges-lines just below the top of soda cans.

To explain better, I need to give a short history lesson.

The reason for producing cans with ridges was to keep them strong under pressure and rupture-proof. Ridges, especially, protect cans during transport from producer to distributor, where cans may fall or collide in transit and rupture. 

Although with many advantages, the ridge design required a lot of aluminum, which increased the cost of production even as the soda industry became more competitive. So, to spend less money on aluminum, manufacturers removed the ridges on the soda cans, thereby changing the shape.

Also, the can had a new opening and a reduced diameter. Before this time, soda cans had a 211 measurement, which means they had a diameter of 2 11/16 of an inch. The industry standard currently stands at 202 after many adjustments over the years.

And that was how every manufacturer stopped producing cans this way in the 1980s, except one facility.

While other canning facilities around the country adapted to the new shape and adjusted their operations to produce these new cans in the 1980s, the only canning facility in Hawaii didn’t. This canning plant had the equipment to make cans with neck ridges and considered it an unnecessary cost to change their equipment. 

So, they continued making the cans, and now they produce cans with a 206 measurement, which is a bit more than standard soda cans, making them the only plant still making them today.

They produce over 300 million cans yearly, which are supplied to Hawaii’s local distributors. While soft drink distributors on the island import and use regular cans, the ridged cans are a staple of the island and are used mostly.

What Are the Ridges on Hawaiian Sodas For?

What Are the Ridges on Hawaiian Sodas For?

The ridges on Hawaiian soda cans are lines on the neck area of the can, just below the top. These lines help to strengthen the can during expansion and contraction, thereby reducing the risk of rupture by pressure.

Even though soda cans with ridges cost more than regular soda cans, local distributors are not very concerned about this expense. This is because it reduces their shipping expense and allows them to contribute to their local economy.

Below is the process the Hawaiian plant follows to make their ridged cans;

First, company staff convert aluminum sheet coils into short, flat cups using presses. A sheet coil can produce hundreds of thousands of flat cans, and this plant creates 1 million cans 5 days a week. 

The second step involves converting the flat cups into traditional can shapes using another set of presses. This is done twice, and then the can is washed to remove coolants and oils.

Thirdly, color is applied to the cans before it is sent through two ovens, first to remove their tackiness and second to finish the baking process.

Finally, ridges are applied to the neck of the can, and the cans are inspected before delivery to distributors.

When Was the First Soda Can Made?

The first soda can was made in 1938. Before that, from as early as 1930, can manufacturers had begun to find ways to use cans in packaging carbonated beverages. 

While tobacco and cigarettes were already available in cans at the time, manufacturers had different concerns about packaging soft drinks in cans. One concern was the can distortion that the carbonation of the drinks might cause.

Hence, the cans needed to have enough strength to contain the carbonation, and this was to be done without increasing the thickness of the metal used.

Another concern was the shelf life of the beverage. Unlike beers that are only mildly acidic, soft drinks contain carbonic, phosphoric, and citric acid that could easily corrode the metal of the can, allowing the metal to alter the taste of soda.

However, after the National Canners Association was formed in 1907, the association began working to address these concerns and developing canning techniques. Their work culminated in the canning of the first soft drink in 1938.

Who Invented the First Soda Can?

Who Invented the First Soda Can?

Continental Can Company used a cone-top can for packaging Clicquot Club ginger ale in 1938. But the soda can they created had many issues, including leakages and flavor absorption, and it took quite some time to find solutions to these issues. 

An improved form of the cans came when this company merged with Pepsi-Cola to launch the first major canned soft drink in 1948. After that year, other beverage companies, such as James Vernor Company of Detroit, Dr Pepper, and Coca-cola, introduced their can designs, including a flat top and harlequin design, among others.

The production of cans by Coca-cola allowed them to keep up with the innovation in the industry and balance the scores with their age-long rival, Pepsi-cola. You can learn many facts about Pepsi and Coca-cola here, such as which is older, their history, and the different brands under them.

In the 1960s, aluminum, a competitor for steel and coatings in can-making, was introduced. Aluminum beverage cans were first manufactured by Reynolds Metal Company in 1963, and this can was first used to package a diet cola in the same year. These days canned beverages are sold more than plastic and glass bottles.

Where Did Soda Cans Originate?

The first soda cans were created by Continental Can Company, and since they were based in Stamford, Connecticut, it is assumed that this is where the first soda cans originated from. However, this company had many plants around the country, including New Jersey, New York, and Chicago.

By the mid-1930s, the company had 38 plants in the US and Cuba, supplying two-thirds of the annual can production in the US. So, soda cans could easily have been first created in any of their plants.

When Was Soda First Sold In Cans?

When Was Soda First Sold In Cans?

The first soda sold in cans was Clicquot Club ginger ale produced by Continental Can Company. These cans were cone-top cans made of steel and other coatings. Pepsi, Dr Pepper, and Coca-cola began selling in cans some years later.

In the 1960s, aluminum became more popular for cans, and the first sodas to be sold in all-aluminum cans were RC Cola and Diet-Rite Cola by Royal Crown Cola Company in 1964.

Why Did Soda Cans Change Shape?

The shape of soda cans was changed because manufacturers wanted to reduce their cost of production. Before the 1980s, soda cans had a 211 measurement, which means they had a diameter of 2 11/16 an inch.

So, they removed some aluminum from the neck area, changed the size of the can opening, and reduced the diameter of the can.

This enabled manufacturers to save money on aluminum materials in the competitive market of the time. The industry standard currently stands at 202 after many adjustments over the years.

Conclusion

Hawaiian soda cans are different from the regular soda cans now but are similar to the cans used before the ‘80s. Their soda cans have ridges at the neck area and are slightly larger than the current standard size of soda.

The first soda can was made in 1938 by Continental Can Company when they canned and sold Clicquot Club ginger ale. From the ‘40s up to the early ‘60s, the cans produced were made of steel until aluminum cans made an entry into the industry in the mid-1960s and became the most popular material for making cans.

Soda cans have been developed and improved over several decades, producing what we know as modern soda cans. As change is constant, this will not be the last of improvements on soda cans. 

However, one thing is for sure; we’ll be here to write about it all!