Happy Tin Can Day!


There’s a day of recognition for almost anything. The tin can did not get left out. So let me take a moment to wish you a happy Tin Can Day (19 January).

A brief history

You might be wondering why a tin can needs a day of commemoration. Well, this wonderful invention may seem like a simple, ordinary household thing but it was a game-changer in preserving food, especially during times of war from the 1800s to prevent hunger amongst those on the battlefield. Since then, the tin can has been a relief to people who can’t afford fresh food and those who want to make quick meals. It’s a great way to get food to people in impoverished communities, as tin cans are portable and durable. The food inside it lasts longer and people can cook and eat as they need. Today, tin cans are a household staple. How often do we crack open a tin of beans or corn without a second thought? If you’re the outdoorsy type and enjoy camping, tin cans make access to food a whole lot easier. Tin cans are great for the environment because they are recyclable in many ways. Aside from compressing and add them to the production cycle, they can be recycled – or upcycled – into beautiful crafts.

My favourites

Do you have some go-to canned foods that you make sure you’re stocked up on? My favourites are:

  • Tomatoes (paste, whole, chopped)
  • Sardines (I grew up on sardine and potato chip sandwiches. Don’t knock it before you’ve tried it!)
  • Sweet corn (whole kernels and cream style, both of which go into my amazing chicken and corn soup – recipe loading)
  • Evaporated milk (takes desserts – and even your cup of tea – to a new level)

Want to celebrate Tin Can Day? Here are some ideas:

  • Make a meal using only canned food
    Since everything from veg to meat comes in a can these days, this shouldn’t be too hard, right?
  • Pick a day (or two or three) and eat only canned food
    Aside from individual food items in a tin, you can find whole meals as well, spiced and all. Canned vegetable and meat curries and briyanis are popular in South Africa and super affordable for those on a tight budget.
  • Donate to those in need
    Don’t feel like cooking or eating from a tin can but still want to honour it, then donate some canned food to someone in need.
  • Make a craft
    A handmade craft always makes a wonderful gift. Even someone who’s not very “arts and crafty” (like me) will appreciate a little handmade something, made even from a tin can.

At first, a dedicating a day in honour of the tin can might seem odd. However, it certainly creates awareness and ignites a newfound gratitude for this very common household item that usually doesn’t get second thought.

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