Monday, March 21, 2016

Then and Now: The Parading Oshkosh Beer Cans

In 1949, the Oshkosh Brewing Company began canning its beer. The first type of can used by OBC was a crowntainer, a can with a seamless body and funnel-shaped spout. Initially described as a “metal bottle” crowntainers were introduced in 1939 by the Crown Cork & Seal Company.

Here’s a look at an OBC crowntainer.

Here’s how those cans looked from the top.

To help introduce the new package, OBC made a large replica of the can for the brewery’s float in the 1949 Oshkosh Fourth of July Parade. Here’s that float coming down Oregon Street near 8th Avenue.

When the parade was over the can was taken to the home of OBC executive, Lorenz “Shorty” Kuenzl on Bent Avenue. Here’s Shorty’s 14-year-old son John Kuenzl posing with the can.

John Kuenzl would later be a driver for OBC and eventually become president of Lee Beverage of Wisconsin, a beer distributorship based in Oshkosh. Here he is again with his friend Dick Oaks (of the Oaks Candy family).

Earlier this year, the Society of Oshkosh Brewers was asked to take part in this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which took place Saturday on Main Street in Oshkosh. Inspired by the OBC float of 1949, the SOB's parade entry was in keeping with the club's ethos of "Upholding Oshkosh's Brewing Tradition." Instead of doing a single can, though, the SOBs decided to do a six-pack of cans, each adorned with a classic Oshkosh beer label.

Here's the full SOB parade crew just before the start of the parade.

SOB cans parading down Main Street.

Here the cans are piled high in Oblio's after the parade.

A few more shots of the SOBs.

Here's my John Kuenzl reenactment.

Finally, here's a very brief video of the SOB cans executing their crowd-pleasing, figure-eight, six-pack formation.

Much thanks to Kay Kuenzl-Stenerson who was a great help with this post. Also thanks to Chris Bauer, Correen Redlin, and Dick Waltenberry for their pictures posted here.


  1. You all did a great job, and were the highlight of the parade!

  2. Does anyone know what happen to that giant Chief Oshkosh crowntainer?

    1. I'd like to know, too, David. I've never been able to find out.