Why the Soda Can Design is Flawed

Imagine, you are at a party. Your mouth is dry and you feel a strong thirst hang over you. You decide to go to the party’s designated drink container and pick up a cold root beer. You pinch the oh so familiar tab and push down, hearing the crisp snap of the can opening. You purse your lips to the aluminum can and start to drink the sweet carbonated beverage inside.

This is a common scenario among many individuals. That urge to open a cold carbonated drink and taste your preferred brand or flavor. This is why the soda can has become a main staple in culture, since the invention of aluminum cans in 1959. But even if it’s the norm, it doesn’t prevent the design from being flawed. There are numerous problems with our modern day soda cans. This isn’t about how they are bad for the environment or if they have health drawbacks. This is about how from a design stand-point, soda cans are flawed. 

If you look over at the beer and alcohol industries, you will know the iconic beer bottle design. The long smooth cylinder body with the stalk at the top, covered with a bottle cap. If you don’t know by now, the stalk at the top is supposed to be held, not the body. This design choice was made to help prevent your hands from getting cold, but more importantly to keep the drink cool. Now you can start to see the soda can design start to crumble. Without the stalk or even a handle, you are forced to hold the can and deal with holding the cold beverage and your hand heating it up. Some would suggest wearing gloves or a piece of cloth, but not everyone has those readily available. 

There is also the issue of drinking the beverage. If you look at the top of the can, you will notice the hole from which you drink from is not on the rim of the can. Older cans do have their opening on the rim, so what is the issue? Well after drinking a sufficient amount of the beverage, the remaining liquid always gets caught swirling around the rim as you desperately try to drink what’s left. This is why so many cans always has a little bit of drink still left inside. 

There is also the issue of a soda can that has the top and bottom bulging outwards. This is caused by the soda freezing, causing the water molecules to expand and take up more space resulting in the two ends to bulge out. This causes a double-edge sword occasion to occur. If you want to keep you soda extra cool, you run the risk of making it impossible to place it down (bringing up the first problem) or having a much warmer drink instead.

Of course this doesn’t matter in the long-run. A soda is a soda, no matter the container. This is more of just an overview of how even the most iconic of objects can look silly from a design standpoint. No matter what way you drink your soda we can all agree it’s a perfect party-time drink and to be fair were not thinking about how poorly designed a drink can is. We just want a drink.

Ian Helm