According to the Wikipedia entry for Beverage Can (it’s been an exciting morning), the pull tab can opening mechanism was patented in 1963 and introduced commercially soon after. I grew up amidst our country’s dawning recognition that the planet was not our trash can. People started seeing litter as the most conspicuous example of the pollution we’d been so recklessly befouling our environment with. And in this realm, pull tabs were enemy number one: dangerous, ubiquitous and permanent. Fortunately, cans with integrated, stay-on openers started appearing in the mid-70s. I remember this being spurred by legislation banning pull tabs, but maybe I’m making that part up.
Anyway, during our drought, the ground cover at the park at Austin’s Auditorium Shores has all but died off and blown away, revealing the bare ground underneath. Yesterday, my friend and I noticed quite a few ancient pull tabs on this bare ground, along with more recent finds, like discarded batteries and green tea bottle caps. It’s likely some of these tabs are over 30 years old. Imagine what a nuisance they’d be if they’d never gone out of favor.