Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ralph J. Stolle

Today we honor Ralph J. Stolle (1904-1996) for making the pop top a viable option for soda lovers. Though he held more than 50 patents throughout his life, today we celebrate his innovation that allowed pop tops to be mass manufactured. According to an obituary, "the concept for the can top was developed elsewhere, it was not until the Stolle Corporation developed devices for rapidly and cheaply scoring the top that the cans went into widespread use." Basically, Stolle is responsible for making the grooves in cans that allows the tab to break through easily.

Stolle owned several business throughout his life and eventually many of his holdings were bought by Alcoa. He mostly focused on heavy metal and farming implements. His business eventually moved into using animals to develop human vaccines.

Stolle's long career as an entrepreneur earned him a reputation as an innovator. One article states, "Steven Stovall, holder of the Stolle Chair in Entrepreneurship, described the late Ralph. J. Stolle as 'the epitome of the entrepreneur'." Stolle was generous with his wealth. I initially knew him to be the man who donated time and money to start the YMCA in the town I grew up in, which still bears his name. As my research has continued, I've found more and more tales of his charitable giving.

Today we honor Ralph J. Stolle for his innovation in making pop tops a viable option. This invention created great personal wealth for Stolle, and made us all richer by offering a cheap easy way to access sweet bubbly drinks without a bottle opener.

Stolle's obituary
The Ralph J. Stolle Entrepreneurship Lecture Series
The Ralph J. Stolle Countryside YMCA
More on the pop top


Mrs. Reed said...

I didn't know that Ralph Stolle had been a member of the board of trustees of Wilmington College. Good to learn that he was interested in giving to a college.

Stephen Aloia said...

Yo... pop the top...

Unknown said...

i wanted to learn more about the man because at an auction i purchase 2 sterling silver trays and they were some award or retirement plaque type they gave him one from a bank the other Stoll co. whit a bunch of signatures on it, i feel these 2 trays are important parts of this man life and glad i found out about him and to own a part of americana.