Released Today: New Budweiser Can Shaped Like a Bow Tie

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So long six-packs: Budweiser's bowtie-shape cans are sold in eight-packs.
Pat McGauley is passionate about the new can shape, and he makes a strong case for the reasoning behind the new design.

It's all about iconography.

"It's authentic," he explains. Rather than inventing a new shape out of thin air, McGauley contends, "we've taken something we've had around for more than 50 or 60 years."

To utilize such a recognized symbol, he continues, "is to bring iconography to a brand."

McGauley posits that what this new can actually accomplishes is the creation of a stronger, more permanent association between the bow-tie icon and Budweiser, so that years from now, if someone were to see a blank can shaped like a bow tie -- sans any label or brand name, they would instantly recognize it as Budweiser.

In a sense, then, Budweiser is continuing to do what it has always done: innovation as a form of branding.

Having nodded sagely at the epistemology lecture, Gut Check brought up the communal kvetching over the 0.7 ounces of spilled (as it were) beer.

Aren't we now getting less beer for the same price?

The answer is yes...but.

Essentially, for engineering purposes, the new can was forced to shed some interior volume. In order to create the bow-tie shape and maintain the traditional twelve ounces of beer, Budweiser would have had to manufacture a thirteen-ounce can. But in order to do that, the brewer would have had to create an entirely new production line for the thirteen-ounce model. And as we suspected, the new can requires more aluminum (which does cost more, though McGauley did not reveal how much more).

Furthermore, McGauley reveals, Budweiser plans to give back in the near future -- in the form of a 25-ounce can, which -- compute along with us, mathematicians -- will add a full ounce.

Now we're talking!

McGauley says the traditional-shape Bud can will remain available, and there are no plans for phasing it out. (We get the feeling he'd like to see the new can rise to world dominance, but that's just Gut Check's perception, and therefore subject to beer-goggle vagaries...)

Back to the taste test: Holding the new bow-tie can is a unique experience. It feels incredibly sturdy, pretty much the opposite of a flimsy piece of aluminum you might crush against your forehead. In fact, we found it extremely difficult to even make a dent in the thing.

We'll give McGauley and Bud the benefit of the doubt on the whole piece-of-history aspect. Too deep for Gut Check.

In doing research for this story, Gut Check came across this 2006 article from NPR show All Things Considered, which chronicles the ten-ounce can of Budweiser traditionally sold in Southern Maryland's St. Mary's County. According to NPR's Noah Adams, ten-ounce Budweiser cans have been standard in St. Mary's County for the past 50 years. Listen to the below interview for the full story.


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