Wednesday, November 29, 2023


Pull tabs and five ways to reuse them while RVing

If you’re old (like me), you may remember poking holes in a drink can. You used a can opener called a church key. One end of the mechanism featured a pointed end and the other a rounded or smooth end. In order to get the drink to come out without blubbering, you’d poke two holes—one each on opposite sides of the can top. As air flowed into the can, the beverage smoothly flowed out.

The pull tab

In 1959, the can pull tab was invented. Ermal Fraze, the founder of Dayton Reliable Tool & Manufacturing Company, came up with the idea. Legend has it that Fraze forgot to bring a can opener to a picnic. He was forced to try and open beer cans on his car bumper! The embarrassing incident provided an impetus for Fraze to find a new way to open cans. So, after some consideration and experimentation, the pull tab (aka pop tab or ring tab) was born. By 1962, the Pittsburgh Brewing Company had placed Fraze’s pull tab on the top of its Iron City Beer cans. Soon, other manufacturers adopted the pull tab as the way to open their cans, too.

1970s tab upgrade

Daniel F. Cudzik, a Reynolds Metals Company engineer, began searching for an alternative to the pull tab. The problem with pull tabs was what to do with the tab once the can was opened. Many tabs were tossed on the ground—an environmental problem. Other pull tabs were dropped back inside the can, posing a potential choking hazard. Cudzik wanted to find a solution, and in 1975, his Sta-Tab launched. Falls City Beer featured the Sta-Tab and today most drink manufacturers have followed suit.

Unusual uses for can tabs while RVing

  • Straw holder. Turn the Sta-Tab around so that the end of the tab is positioned over the drink opening. The tab hole will help keep your straw in place as you enjoy your soda.
  • Hang a picture. Remove the Sta-Tab from the drink can. Place a screw through the smaller hole in the Sta-Tab to fasten the tab to the back of the picture frame. The larger tab hole will slip over a nail to hang the picture.
  • Double the hanging space. Remove the Sta-Tab from the drink can. Slip a wire hanger through one of the holes in the tab. Then use the other hole to hold an additional hanger. This way you can hang two garments in the space where previously only one was hung.
  • Corral wire ties. I save bread ties. I used to indiscriminately toss them into the silverware drawer, but now I fasten several ties through a Sta-Tab. The tab keeps the ties together so they’re easier to locate.
  • Donate to Ronald McDonald House. Yes, Ronald McDonald House will take your drink tabs for their Tab Top Program. The company sells the aluminum, and the profits support day-to-day operations in The Houses that Love Built.

Do you recycle drink can tabs? Tell us how in the comments below.

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Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.



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Elaine (@guest_218758)
10 months ago

Make Bands for hats and belts can also use for dog collars

DW/ND (@guest_217671)
10 months ago

Thanks for your research Gail! Another very interesting subject. While I guess I wouldn’t hang a straight or crooked picture in my motor home with a tab, I certainly would and have in our S&B home – which isn’t in an earthquake zone or bouncing down the road! Funny how some of these little things are so obvious, but the need just doesn’t appear – but “necessity is the mother of invention”! Please keep digging up these little pearls of info. PS: They also give the outer fringe something to complain about!

Rebecca (@guest_217664)
10 months ago

I grew up in a tee-totalling, church-going family, & for many years I thought a church key was just that! I couldn’t imagine how certain of my acquaintances had been entrusted with so many keys to so many houses of worship. Duh!
Of all your suggestions, I like the Ronald McDonald option best. They’re a wonderful organization. With your wide readership, it could make a real difference if we all saved & donated. Our local school also collects & cashes in pull tabs. Thanks for the reminder.

Don Nedrow (@guest_217675)
10 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca

our state wide RV group saves the tabs and donate to a medical facility for patients that don’t have funds to travel there.

Barry (@guest_217660)
10 months ago

I do in fact recycle the tabs. I actually pull them off and store them in a plastic coffee canister. I then crush the cans and when I have several pounds stored in plastic bags I take them to a nearby recycling center.
Saving the planet one small can at a time.

Gary (@guest_217706)
10 months ago
Reply to  Barry

Why not just leave the tab on the can and crush it. Why a separate storage canister just for the tabs?

Glenda Alexander (@guest_217784)
10 months ago
Reply to  Gary

Here’s a direct quote which may explain it: Pull tabs are a high-grade aluminum that offer “more bang for your buck” to save vs. cans, said Meri Skiera, director of programs and services for Ronald McDonald House of Akron. “It’s doable for everybody to store and manage as a program.”

Cans take up space, smell, and attract bugs, and facilities like the Ronald McDonald House don’t have storage capacity, she said.

Here’s the link:

Snoopy (@guest_217659)
10 months ago

What the heck, doesn’t anyone remember using them for entry door curtains! Are their no hippies left?? LOL
Thanks for the article

Diane McGovern
10 months ago
Reply to  Snoopy

I remember those! Thanks, Snoopy. Have a great day. 😀 –Diane at

Snoopy (@guest_217691)
10 months ago
Reply to  Diane McGovern

Thanks Diane I knew I could count on you! LOL

Diane McGovern
10 months ago
Reply to  Snoopy

I did go through a few of them back in the day. Can’t forget something like that, and the way they would swing for a bit after going through. 😆 –Diane at

Tommy Molnar (@guest_217658)
10 months ago

If you are a “metal detectorist” you can still find some of those old pop tops, especially at beaches.

Bob (@guest_217649)
10 months ago

Come on, really?

Roger B (@guest_217708)
10 months ago
Reply to  Bob

Yes, really. I have found quite a few over the last year or so in campsites. Cleaning out fire pits while workcamping I found several this past summer. They last forever in the ground.

Bob (@guest_217646)
10 months ago

We used to save all the original pull tabs, the ones with the tail, and fashion them into chains. They were put on the Christmas tree like a tinsel rope. I still have one about 20 feet long hanging in my basement as a reminder of the good old days.

mimi (@guest_217640)
10 months ago

Carl—you are totally free to skip over ANY content in this newsletter that you do not show an interest in. However, some of us enjoy learning these little factoids of information and it is a welcome relief from the woes of the world found elsewhere online. Lighten up, man! Now, go pop the top of a can of the beverage of your choice and sit back, enjoy it and thank the inventor for not having to hunt down a can opener.

Carl W (@guest_217644)
10 months ago
Reply to  mimi

I am aware I can skip what I want, and I like factoids as much as you do. But when I see factoids morph into into ridiculous uses, I will say so. So perhaps I should do as you suggest an pop open a can. If you would like, I would be willing to send you all of my pop tops so that you can hang hundreds of pictures in your RV.😎

James Fellows (@guest_217635)
10 months ago

Carl, some of us like those little tid bits of information. So calm down and let other people enjoy.

tom (@guest_217634)
10 months ago

Interesting article. I still have church keys in my tool inventory. As for Dayton, plan a rally and they will come.

McTroy (@guest_217632)
10 months ago

Thank you for the shout out about Dayton Reliable Tool. They are a great company. My late Father in law worked there. The Fraze Pavillion in Kettering is a nice outdoor concert and event venue.
Come to Dayton Ohio for a lot of Manufacturing history. Check out the museum at Carillon Park.

Roger B (@guest_217709)
10 months ago
Reply to  McTroy

The Wright brothers started in Dayton with a bike shop. Lots to learn about the early days of flight.

Carl W (@guest_217628)
10 months ago

I understand this article is supposedly about the use of a part of an aluminum CAN which is a smaller container, but in reality it brings to mind a larger container, a BARREL, and specifically “scraping the bottom of a barrel” to come up with a topic. Am I to seriously believe that a picture hung with a pop top on a nail is going to stay in place when the RV bounces down the highway? Or is the implied concept to remove all pictures hung in this manner and rehang them when taking down and setting up in each location? Or that I need a straw holder for my beverage’s can? Please give me a break. I read the daily tips for useful information. In my opinion, this article contains absolutely none leaving me to wonder if it is worth my time if this is what is being served up. I realize content is somewhat difficult to obtain on a day-to-day basis but I would rather have an abbreviated newsletter than to see an article that seems to exude desperation to find a suitable topic.

John S (@guest_217633)
10 months ago
Reply to  Carl W

Another case of a solution in search of a problem.

Dan (@guest_217639)
10 months ago
Reply to  Carl W

Right. On the other hand these articles provide more letters, which can be as much or more fun than the article. Also, after the kids and grandkids left our holiday funfest, I wasted about 40 pull tabs by crushing the beer and pop cans to go in the recycler. Just think of the wall art that will be missing from our RV.

Bob p (@guest_217641)
10 months ago
Reply to  Carl W

When you use the pull tab for picture hanging you better be good at finding the exact center of gravity or you picture will hang crooked.

Russ (@guest_217642)
10 months ago
Reply to  Carl W

You must be fun around the campfire

Papa Gary (@guest_217669)
10 months ago
Reply to  Carl W

Someone needs to “Get A Life “

bill (@guest_217845)
10 months ago
Reply to  Carl W

Carl got up on the wrong side of the universe today! SHEESH!!!

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