Ermal Fraze (1913 - 1989)
-- Dayton inventor of the pop-top can

  According to family legend, Ermal "Ernie" Fraze invented the pop-top beverage can after forgetting to bring a can opener to a picnic in 1959.
  In 1963 Fraze patented the first pop top can. His company, Dayton Reliable Tool and Manufacturing Co., produced the machines which make the cans.

  Ermal Cleon "Ernie" Fraze was born on a farm near Muncie, Indiana in 1913. After moving to Dayton, his first job was assembling novelties for Cracker Jack boxes. In 1950 he opened Dayton Reliable Tool and Manufacturing Co., 618 Greenmount Blvd.
  According to Fraze's son, Mark, the idea for the pop-top can originated at a family picnic in 1959. "There was no church key or opener," Mark Fraze said, "and so he used a car bumper to open it, and he said, "There must be a better way."
  Ermal Fraze once said that some time after the picnic he was unable to sleep after drinking too much coffee. He went to his basement workshop to work on the idea. "I was only going to work on this thing for an hour," he said, "but I was up all night and it came to me -- just like that."
  Fraze obtained the first patent for a pop top can in 1963.
  Dayton Reliable Tool is a tool and die company which makes the machine tooling for cans and other manufacturing processes.
  When Ermal Fraze died in 1989 he left an estate valued at more than $40 million.
  The Fraze Pavilion and Performing Arts Center in Kettering's Lincoln Park opened in 1991. The Fraze family donated a major portion of the $2.7 million cost of constructing the center.

Selected Dayton Daily News stories:

DDN 10-27-89 "Ermal Fraze, inventor of pop top, dies"
DDN 5-20-90 "Ernie's firm keeps on poppin' -- Pop-top can company will stay in Dayton"
DDN 9-13-91"Fraze Pavillion: Lincoln Park 'centerpiece' opens with Marvin Hamlisch

File created: 2-27-96