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Shockingly I can't find an answer to this anywhere I look online. I have an oval canister of cocoa that I received as a gift with no directions on how to open it. A can opener is not going to work here due to the shape.

enter image description here

It says it is a plug top. But I can't seem to unplug it with brute force using my hands. How do you open a new plug top?

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At least for round plug tops, I use a butter knife for leverage. Have you tried it with your oval container? – rumtscho May 14 '14 at 19:45
I did. Although I used it on the short end. After your comment I tried it on the side (the pointier end) and it worked like a charm. My guess is it created more leverage. Would you like to write an answer so I can accept it? – MHH May 14 '14 at 19:51
Too late, but I was going to recommend a flat head screw driver. That kind of lid is like opening a can of paint. – Jolenealaska May 14 '14 at 20:02
I've always found a regular tablespoon to work really well. – leon May 18 '14 at 3:01
up vote 4 down vote accepted

That is generally what I thought this piece of a can opener was for (prying the lid off):

As opposed to keeping a screwdriver or paint can opener in your kitchen.

enter image description here

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As described in the comments by Jolenealaska and rumtscho, the key to opening plug-tops is leverage; it "is like opening a can of paint." Use a butter knife, screw driver or any other object that is both long, flat and sturdy to pry open the can. It is nearly impossible to open a plug top with your hands. If the can is oval pry open from the end of the can that will yield the most leverage (i.e. your rod should be parallel to the long axis and perpendicular to the short one).

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The flatter the better- I had a similar problem with a can of paprika and first pried it open with a meaty butter knife that ruined the seal. – player3 May 14 '14 at 20:30
I would suggest... using a paint can opener. A clean one, of course. – derobert May 15 '14 at 6:04
Also, if using a butter knife or screwdriver, use the leverage-rotate-leverage technique: Apply leverage, release leverage, rotate a few centimeters, repeat. This will avoid undue bending or damaging the top. – jsanc623 May 15 '14 at 17:33

To avoid damaging the rim (and making the can unable to reseal), I'd use a paint can opener, available for under a buck (or sometimes free!) from the local hardware store. A screwdriver or butter knife could slip, and injure you or damage the can.

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