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Aluminum cans and the cool factor

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Beverage brands have been working on innovations and modifications that make their cans perform better and stand out in consumers’ minds.

British Columbia inventor Steve Archambault has created what he says will be the next generation can pop top, a “smart tab” that thirsty folks use to open the can in the normal fashion. Once their thirst is slaked, users swivel the tab around and it acts as a cork to stop up the can until thirst calls once more, as Beverage Daily reported this summer.

Cans closures have gone from sealed lids that had to be punctured with a can opener to the tabs of today; now, much of the latest innovation in the world of aluminum cans has shifted from sealing to temperature.

Some seem clearly destined to be novelties, such as West Coast Chill’s self-chilling cans. According to the website, the cans incorporate “Heat Exchanger Units (HEU) which uses a C-CO2 adsorbent-desorption system to cool the beverage in the can.” The company touts the technology from Joseph Company International as a game-changer, but with a six-pack of the energy drink selling on the company’s website for $39.99, it’s probably not ideal for everyday use. Still, the self-chilling properties are likely to appeal to campers, hikers and consumers who find themselves in places where ice is scarce and there’s no place to plug in a fridge.

Chilling out is also the objective of another emerging can technology, driven by innovations in ink from Chromatic Technologies that turns cans of drinks ranging from Mountain Dew to Coors Light different colors when the liquid inside hits a certain temperature.

The New York Times and other media outlets in 2009 described the launch of the Coors Light can that changes from white to blue when the brew inside reaches just the right temperature for drinking, along with the many marketing campaigns and partnerships created to promote the newly dressed silver bullet.

This year, PepsiCo incorporated the technology into promotional 16-ounce cans of Mountain Dew to coincide with the release of the movie “The Dark Knight Rises,” Packaging World reported last month. “Innovation in packaging design enhances the credibility of the brand: Graphics are one thing, but interesting inks and structural innovation provide a whole new meaning to our successful brand marketing efforts,” said Mountain Dew’s art director Mike Gottschalk.

What do you see as the biggest game changers to date and what are the next big innovations? Tell us about it in the comments.