Soda Cans Simply Hit Different In Hawaii

If you've traveled to Hawaii, or live in Hawaii and have traveled to the mainland, you may have noticed a few differences. First and second, the glorious weather and stunning landscapes are better in the tropical paradise. Third, though, is the shape of the aluminum can containing your beachside hard seltzer. Most soda brands in Hawaii come in odd-shaped cans you just don't see on the mainland. What gives?

The Hawaiian soda cans, called 206es, feature a larger lid diameter at 2.375 inches, plus a longer, less tapered neck, with four ridges under the lip. This can was standard all over the U.S. until 1991, when manufacturers opted for a canning process that used less aluminum. This meant cheaper manufacturing costs. The 206 cans were replaced with a smaller lid, measuring 2.125 inches across, a quarter inch smaller than Hawaiian cans, and called 202s. Aluminum can lids are thicker than the body of the can and cost a bit more to make, so a smaller lid diameter equals a cheaper manufacturing process. But, for various reasons, Hawaii opted to keep using the 206 cans even though they're more costly.

Hawaiian soda cans are unique because of economics

Soda companies can and bottle their drinks locally – chances are your Pepsi wasn't canned too far from where you bought it – and Hawaii is no different. However, the Hawaiian soda market is so small — there's only one canning plant in the state — that the money needed to invest in switching the canning equipment from 206es to 202s wasn't worth it. So the Hawaiian canning factory opted to keep its 206 equipment rather than overhaul its production line, giving the state its unique soda cans.

Plus, Hawaii is literally in the middle of the ocean, about 2,500 miles off the coast of California, and a five-hour flight. The cost of doing business across an ocean is very expensive. Everything needs to be shipped to the islands, and a 100-year-old law called the Jones Act increases shipping costs, according to Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. So everything in Hawaii is expensive, let alone shipping fees for sodas in 202 cans. On your next trip to Hawaii, feel free to save one of these odd soda cans as a souvenir of your trip.