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Giant Milk Can Escape

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The Giant Milk Can Escape was an escape created by Harry Houdini in 1908 and introduced in St. Louis at the Columbia Theater on January 27.

Houdini would escape from inside a giant milk can filled with water. Originally called 'The Galvanized Iron Can Filled with Water', it became a very popular trick and he took it on tour throughout the U.S., England, and Germany.

In this effect, Houdini would be handcuffed and sealed inside an over-sized milk can filled with water and make his escape behind a curtain. As part of the effect, Houdini would invite members of the audience to hold their breath along with him while he was inside the can. Advertised with dramatic posters that proclaimed "Failure Means A Drowning Death", the escape proved to be a sensation.

Houdini soon modified the escape to include the Milk Can being locked inside a wooden chest. Houdini only performed the Milk Can escape as a regular part of his act for four years, but it remains one of the effects most associated with him.

Houdini's brother, Hardeen, continued to perform the Milk Can (and the wooden chest variation) into the 1940s.

One original version of Houdini's Milk Can and his Overboard Box are housed at the American Museum of Magic‎.

The escape was invented by Montraville Wood, who pitched the idea to Houdini and discussed it via letters. Wood developed eight different ways to escape from the Milk Can and Houdini applied for a patent in September 1908.