William Painter (1894)
How nice of William Painter, the Irish-born American, to not only invent the bottle cap, but the opener that goes with it! Still in use and familiar to everybody, this little product has been around for more than a century. In the early days of fizzy drinks, bottles had to be stored lying down on their sides, otherwise the simple cork stopper could dry out, which is why carbonated drink bottles used to have a round base, making it impossible to put them upright. After the prolific inventor (with 85 patents) came up with his splendid idea, the first disposable mass product, fizzy bottles could be stored vertically, which reduced their footprint. The ingenious opener was often referred to as “church key”, not only because the shape resembled the key that monks had dangling on a chain around their neck, but also, because, much like a church key, it gave access to a devoted service, in this case, to the brewski.