Bubble Gum Machine - Gumball Machine History

Gumball Machine

The history of chewing gums cannot be told in full without mentioning vending machines that managed to popularize them incredibly in the early 20th century when modern recipes of chewing gums enabled much better experience than the ones before it.

The vending and gumball machines that started appearing all around the world because they offered a very profitable business to the sellers who were able to purchase sweet gums from manufacturers for very affordable price, and then sell it to end customers for much higher price using automated process that did not require seller present to dispense the gums.

The gums themselves were made to have a relatively long shelf life. The additional positive point came from the price of gumball vending machines, their ability to be placed in public areas for free if their operators would donate a percentage of proceedings for a charity or some public cause. They were much less expensive than the vending machines that dispensed larger snacks or soft drinks both in their basic designs and the need for additional features (for example they did not require power to operate or refrigeration). Reliability of gumball machines was also a point of praise, often causing them to be placed in locations that saw foot traffic around the clock, enabling anyone to purchase chewing gum in an easy way. From the very first moment gumball machines appeared, they were placed in locations such as train stations, general stores, pubs, parks and tourist locations.

The first chewing gum vending machines appeared on the United States market around 1888, making them one of the earliest coin-operated vending machines in the world. During that time of innovation, simple vending machines started dispensing candy, drinks, breath mints, as well as more exotic products such as pencils, razor blades, perfume or even toilet paper. Gumball machines as we know them today with their spherical glass (or more commonly plastic) dome or sphere was introduced in 1907. This first model was most probably created by Thomas Adams Gum Co., Company that was responsible for some of the most popular chewing gum products in history. Two most popular manufacturers of gumball machines were Norris Manufacturing Company (who were able to claim a patent in 1923), Ford Gum and Machine Company. A fascinating moment in gumball machine history happened during American Prohibition where all forms of gambling were forbidden. This impacted some gumball machines since some of them were viewed as “gambling machines” since they had the option to reward every 10th users by giving them their penny coin back.

The majority of gumball machines that were put into use had a very simple design that included glass or plastic sphere that housed multi-colored Bubble Gum chewing gums, and a simple operating mechanism below it that accepted coins. When the user put the coin and operated a small lever, the mechanism inside the machine would release one of the gums into a chute that customer could reach for. The user-accessible area was cordoned off from the rest of the gumballs by a one-way flap. While many of the machines used this simple approach, some newer models elected to use electricity to control more elaborate forms of gumball transport, such as lifts, pulleys, ramps, and drops.