Church Key

Why is a can opener called a “church key”?

It’s a bottle opener, and I’m pretty sure there’s a drunk priest joke in there somewhere.

No no no no. Delila is talking about the things you use to punch holes in the top of punch cans. I had heard that similar tools were used to open barrels of wine for church, but that may well be a UL.

During the prohibition (http://majoritywhip.house.gov/constitution/Amendments/amends1.htm scroll down and follow the links to Admendment numbers 18 and 21) people referred to items related to alcohol by other names so the would not get caught.

See http://www.just-for-openers.org/Church-Key.html
and http://www.word-detective.com/072999.html (search for church key or scroll about 1/2 way down)

Try Google. It’s a great search engine, and I’m not just saying that because my friend’s dad works there.

I remember the reason being that most tabernacles were locked with oversized locks–which required oversized chunks of metal (the keys) to open them.

Bottle openers are kinda big, hunky metal things. So I can see the connection.
Ashy’s Story Hour

While taking a tour through Italy some years back–I purchased a bottle opener in Vativan City which was decorated with an engraving of the visage of Pope John Paul. I think I still have it somewhere. :smiley:

Long, long ago, in the days before pull-tabs on cans, a “church key” was the name assigned to the little device that punched holes in the top of a beer can.

They usually have can opener at one end, and a bottle opener on the other. (At least the couple in my kitchen drawer do.)

It’s a jocular comparison between two big heavy metal objects that are both used in the performance of holy ceremonies.