It makes sense, sort of.
I’m not sure any dish on the Thanksgiving table divides people more than cranberry sauce. Are you team homemade or team canned? Are you team jellied or team whole berry? If you’re team canned, are you team “ridges must be visible when plated” or team “who cares?”
Personally, I’m team canned, jellied, ridges showing. Why? That's what I grew up with.
I also grew up with cranberry sauce cans that looked different than they do today. If my memory serves me correctly, the cans of yore had a lip on the top and the bottom. You could use your can opener to open both the top and the bottom and then push the entire contents out of the can, and the cranberry sauce would still be perfectly can-shaped.
Now, it’s not uncommon to see cranberry sauce cans upside-down. Exactly when did that happen? And why?
The “when” happened sometime in the early 2000s, when Ocean Spray changed its can design. Other producers followed suit with their cans, including the ShopRite ones in my pantry.
Ocean Spray Explains Why the Cranberry Sauce Can Is Upside-Down
In a TikTok video, Ocean Spray acknowledged that the can is now upside-down. You have to flip the can over to open it, as the lipped end (the side that can be opened with a can opener) is now on the bottom.
But why? Ocean Spray says this is to get the cranberry sauce out in one intact piece.
“The rounded part of the can that looks like the bottom has an air bubble in it,” Ocean Spray’s representative explains. The bubble is there so you can “break the seal the sauce makes with the can.”
Without that bubble, you’d have to scoop out the cranberry sauce, and you wouldn’t be able to get the “wonderful can shape that comes with cranberry sauce.”
Okay, I get the science, but I got the “wonderful can shape” before the upside-down can by opening both ends. But perhaps not enough people knew that trick, so Ocean Spray changed the can’s shape.
One thing the video doesn’t explain is this: Why does it have to be upside-down? The air bubble is at the top of the can, the now-rounded end that can NOT be opened with a can opener. I assume it has to be that way because the air bubble needs to be at the top of the can during storage. It has to be opened from the opposite end of the air bubble for the seal to break.
If the can were stored with the air bubble on the bottom for an extended time, the cranberry sauce would “crush it,” rendering it useless. By turning the can upside down, meaning that Ocean Spray attaches the label upside down, consumers will store the can with the air bubble at the top.
Cranberry Sauce Fans Weigh In
Thankfully, I’m not the only one who remembers opening both ends of the can.
One commenter wrote, “Literally used to be easier when you would just take off both ends and slide it out.” Another commented, “I miss when you could use the can opener on both ends and push it out.”
These commenters have a point (and prove mine). In Ocean Spray's video, the person explaining the design sticks a knife between the cranberry sauce and the side of the can to help get the sauce out, and she takes a small chunk out of the former perfectly cylindrical cranberry sauce. Of course, you could just hide the missing piece by placing that side on the bottom of the serving dish, but when I could open both ends, it slid out completely intact.
For those who still prefer the old method, several commenters had this suggestion:
Open the end that’s meant to be opened with the can opener.
Turn it upside down over the serving dish you’ll be using.
Poke a hole in the side that has the air bubble in it.
The cranberry sauce should slide out completely intact.
I have not tried that method, so I can’t promise you it will work. The worst that could happen is that you’ll need to stick a knife between the can and the cranberry sauce. Then pray you don’t take a chunk out of it—especially if you have anyone at the table who is team canned cranberry sauce with that perfect can shape.
Read the original article on All Recipes.