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In Back to the Future Marty has trouble opening a glass bottle, because he assumes that the bottle can be opened by twisting off the cap, which implies to me, that he has no idea, that he has to use a bottle opener, as George (more or less) demonstrates to him. I searched for patents that describe twist-off bottle caps, but the one I found, is dated to 1987, which obviously makes no sense, because the movie has been released in 1985 and is partly set in 1955.

Is it reasonable to believe that Marty had no idea how to open a non twist-off cap, and that he has never encountered such a bottle in 1985 or before? Were twist-off bottle caps introduced after 1955? (I might add, that I am European and I have never seen a twist-off bottle cap before)

  • I'm not entirely sure I understand the question. Clearly twist off caps were available in 1985 otherwise they would not appear in the movie at all. So therefore they must appear in the movie universe (and probably the real world) sometime between 1955 and 1985 - enough so for Marty to be very familiar with them. – iandotkelly Sep 16 '19 at 20:27
  • So does your question really boil down to the simpler question "Is it reasonable to believe that Marty had no idea how to open a non twist-off cap?". – iandotkelly Sep 16 '19 at 20:28
  • Yes, this is the question I would like to have answered. Maybe it was not clear to which bottle I was referring to. I will adjust my question. – Jon Lamer Sep 16 '19 at 21:04
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According to AskBeer

The twist off bottle cap appeared in the early 1960's. This was the same time as the introduction of the pop top can.

This site specializes in questions about beer but the twist off cap has also been in used in sodas since then.

As an underage young man, Marty was likely expecting soda to come with a twist-off cap. Soda sold in the 1980's mainly came in plastic bottles with caps you twist off. Being a young man, he was likely not too used to opening bottles with an opener as glass bottles with pry-off caps of his era were more than likely for beer.

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    But is it safe to assume that the old caps have been replaced by twist off bottle caps since then, such that by 1985 there is no way (or a very low chance) that Marty is familiar with the old caps and bottle openers? – Jon Lamer Sep 16 '19 at 21:21
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    I think it's more likely that the McFly family is not known for their brains as much as their likelihood to get angry over being called "chicken". In other words, he should have known better, but he's not particularly bright – m1gp0z Sep 16 '19 at 21:28
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    Patents aren't really a good source when trying to learn when a first of something was invented. The patent that was found in this case might have been for a specific method of a twist cap, not twistable caps in general. Additionally not every invention has a patent. There are lots of cases where an original inventor didn't patent their invention and hundreds of copy cat products filled the market. – sanpaco Sep 16 '19 at 23:58
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    In addition to @m1gp0z 's comment about plastic bottles... It's mainly beer bottles that have the lids you need an opener for. Marty seems a bit health-conscious ("something without sugar", "you shouldn't drink") and well below the alcohol drinking age in the US, so it's reasonable to think that he has never opened a beer bottle and so never had call to use a bottle opener. – colmde Sep 17 '19 at 13:10
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    I looked up a different scene of the movie, when Marty is setting at the dining table with his family, and it seems that he is most familiar with bottles with screw caps and cans, if you assume that their buying habits did not change before. – Jon Lamer Sep 17 '19 at 14:51

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