Why Cranberry Sauce Is Always Canned Upside Down

If there's one undersung hero of Thanksgiving dinner, it's canned cranberry sauce, which is undeniably and strangely way more delicious than it appears when spotted lining supermarket shelves. Sweet, tangy, and eye-pleasingly crimson-hued, cranberry sauce adds a welcome contrast to a warm bite of turkey — and is an essential ingredient on next-day leftover sandwiches. Americans love canned cranberry sauce so much that each holiday season, they tuck away more than 5 million gallons of the stuff, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

According to Smithsonian, fresh cranberries are famous for having a short season, appearing in North American supermarkets and farmers' markets exclusively during September, October, and November. To extend the product's shelf life, businessman (and cranberry bog owner) Marcus L. Urann created canned cranberry sauce in 1912. By 1941, the product was available nationwide, and it started to grace Thanksgiving Day tables in earnest.

If your family has ever tucked into a can of cranberry sauce, then you might have noticed a peculiar feature — when opened and dumped onto a plate, cranberry sauce gives a distinctive slide-and-plop. As it turns out, cranberry sauce is always canned upside down, and there's a particular reason why.

Canning the sauce upside down creates a vacuum

If you have ever taken a good look at a can of cranberry sauce before opening it, you'll have noticed that it's upside down compared to most canned products. According to Delish, the rounded edge is at the top, while the sharper edge (opened with a can opener) is at the bottom. So, when you open it, you have to flip it twice — first to open the can, then again for that dramatic "plop" when the jelled sauce slides out all in one can-shaped piece.

Cranberry sauce is always canned upside down — and here's why. "The rounded end of the can is filled with an air bubble vacuum, which makes it easier to get the sauce out," an Ocean Spray representative told Delish. So, the next time you flip over and open a can of cranberry sauce, you'll know exactly why it needs to be inverted first.