Jennifer Schmitt: Does anyone know the origin of the term "church key" ? I know of it as a bottle opener but wonder why it is referred to as a church key and what a church key is? Jennifer
Dick McQ: A church key was used to punch a triangular hole in the top of a can, usually a beer can, (before cans were produced with the rings that lift off to provide an opening) for drinking or pouring. Sometimes the church key was equipped on the opposite end with a hook to remove bottle caps, but the church key was used exclusively on cans. My sources have no explanation of the origin of the term, but I'd put my money on the coiner choosing a term to stick in the ear of the "drys" which were generally Christian in religious persuasion - WCTU for one, the Women's Christian Tempeance Union, which with the Anti-Saloon League, was a major player in the prohibition wars.What better way to thumb the nose at the drys than to call a gadget, which opened beer cans, a church key!
Return to the Archive Index
|Return to the Word for Word articles|
|Return to the BrisMail Home page|