Church keys don’t just open church doors

The modern-day church key

The modern-day church key

Whenever I am feeling that particular kind of thirsty and need assistance opening a beer bottle, I pull out my church key. Lately, however, when I go to parties to do that exact same thing, I get a deer-in-the-headlights look every time I ask where the church key is, followed by a “What is that?” Uh… a church key, duh.

Naturally I retort with, “What do you call it?” Then I get the varying answers all sounding something like a bottle opener, beer opener thingy, or that thing that opens beer – all equally creative answers. Honestly, I did not know anybody called it anything else. So, I thought I would use this post to provide some history of the term, church key, and proof that I am not the only one that uses it.

Back in the day, going as far back as the 1930s, beer only came in bottles. The only way to open them without hurting yourself was to use a metal implement with a round or oval opening to grip the cap of the bottle. With the proper amount of pressure upward, the cap comes off very easily. People starting calling these tools church keys because of their unique shape, which resembled that of the ornate keys used to open doors in churches. For more information read The Origins of the Church Key Can Opener.

This slang term has been lost with my generation and I am hoping to bring it back. Tell me what you think.


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