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Gum Balls

The Enduring Popularity of Gumball Machines

It's no secret that vending machines are popular, and despite our modern technology, they're still a part of everyday life. Vending machines can come with healthy snacks, drinks and confectionery.

In this post, we'll explore the history of vending machines and look at gumball machines in more detail. So, if you love bubblegum and want to learn more about how it became a worldwide phenomenon - read on!

The History of Vending Machines

It might surprise you to learn that vending machines have been around before modern society! In Ancient Greece, Hero of Alexandria (a mathematician and engineer) invented a vending machine that people used for holy water.

They would go to temples in Egypt, put coins into the machine and have access to holy water - which was highly valuable in ancient times.

It's incredible to think that these machines existed in 215 BC, but it wasn't until the late 1800s that commercial vending machines for books were introduced. Next came the eternally popular gumball machine.

What Is a Gumball Machine?

vintage gumball machines

A gumball machine is a vending machine that dispenses small gumballs when a coin is inserted. Gumball machines are usually found in public places like supermarkets, malls, and amusement parks, but they're also popular in homes.

These machines have a range of coloured gumballs with a hard outer shell and a chewy centre. Each colour has a distinct flavour, from traditional fruits to weird and wonderful creations such as pineapple, cherry cola and even root beer in the USA.

When Were Gumball Machines Invented?

Gumball machines were first invented in the late 19th century, with traditionally flavoured tutti frutti gum. Many believe William Wrigley designed the earliest gum machine, but it was The Thomas Adams Gum Company.

These machines were found on subway platforms, and they had animated figures to make them more appealing. They served a purpose and would be known as the first chewing gum vending machines in the USA.

In 1907, everything changed when Pulver introduced the first gumball machine, but it wouldn't be until 1933 when the machines took off. Thanks to the Northwestern Corporation, and their Model 33 machine, gumballs found themselves a part of western culture.

Perhaps the most significant influencer of gumball machines was the Ford Gum and Machine Company. They invented a carousel gumball machine, which featured a round shape, and a twist mechanism to release the gum. While gumball machines have been modernised, many still retain the classic carousel design!

Gumball Machines 1990's Onwards

90s Gumball Machines

Gumball machines continued to be popular through the 1980s - especially in arcades which were at their height during this time, and manufacturers began to introduce giant gumballs, which lasted longer.

Today, people still use these machines, and many choose to have them at home. Doing this enables you to enjoy your favourite colour gumballs in a gumball machine that's specifically for your use!

Now you know the history of gumball machines, let's explore some other popular vending machines out there.

Soft Drink Machines

Soft drink machines, as the name suggests, vend cold drinks. From water to juice and soda to energy drinks, these machines have a variety of refreshments on offer.

The original soft drink machines were designed to pump sodas into disposable cups, but chilled bottled drinks became available when the Coca Cola company introduced vending machines in 1937.

Surprisingly, it wasn't until the early 1960's that canned soda was included in vending machines, and today you can go pretty much anywhere and have your choice of cold drinks.

Snack Machines

It's no surprise that snack machines are most commonly associated with vending machines because they offer people grab and go food. In 1972, Polyvend introduced vending machines with a glass front, enabling people to look at the snacks on offer before deciding.

Although these snack machines are highly convenient, they are commonly featured in schools, encouraging students to purchase crisps and chocolate all of the time.

As our society becomes more health-conscious, so too do our vending machines! These days you can find healthy snack vending machines stocked with items like fruit bars, yoghurt, and even sandwiches.

Today, schools and offices encourage healthy eating, and there are plenty of healthy foods to choose between - but there's nothing wrong with enjoying the odd treat now and again.

Crazy Vending Machines

Well, we couldn't leave this post without mentioning some crazy vending machines worldwide. The USA and Japan are two countries that have embraced this convenient way to offer food and drink, and there are some weird and wonderful machines out there.

Take Japan's beer and sake vending machines, for example, or burrito machines in the USA. Japan also offers bread in tin vending machines (we're not sure why!), and the USA turned dreams into a reality with the Tombstone Pizza vending machines.

If you're looking for a healthier take on vending machines, Japan's innovative lettuce machine produces healthy vegetables daily. Those that enjoy decadence will be happy to learn that Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, has its very own caviar vending machine.

Vending machines aren't just for food and drink; plenty of brands are introducing them to sell products. Sephora has a machine that dispenses makeup, while medical marijuana is available in the USA.

Dubai even has a machine that dispenses 24 karat gold! People can buy bars, coins and jewellery while being supervised by armed guards the whole time.

At one point, cigarette vending machines were popular, but luckily they're no longer available in the UK - due to the continued effort to stop smoking.

There are so many vending machines available, and you can find one for pretty much everything now.

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it; a complete history of vending machines. There's no doubt that these machines have significantly evolved, making gumball machines all the more impressive.

They're the only machine that still retains its original concept and design, giving people the opportunity to access delicious bubblegum wherever they are.

Whether you're looking to add a gumball machine to your business, or love gumballs so much you'd like your very own machine, you can rest assured that our cost-effective prices are suitable for any budget.