In 1888 the first vending machines to sell gum were put out on train platforms in New York City. This sold stick gum manufactured by the Thomas Adams Gum Company. This Tutti-Frutti gum sold for a penny a stick. The history that goes along with these early gum vending machines explains how Thomas Adams stumbled on the formula for a better chewing gum. He was trying hard to make other products and not succeeding very well. Adams tried to make toys, rain boot and bike tires, all with no success until he discovered that an ingredient that he was using to make the tires, chicle, could be used to make a chewy long lasting gum. This was 1871 and his new chewing gum caught on immediately. A few years later he began his interest in vending machines. By 1899, after merging with a number of American and Canadian companies they became the most prosperous gum company in North America.

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Gumball vending machines followed in 1907. It is believed that the first ones were used by the Thomas Adams Company but there the history is a little less clear. If they were not the first they were certainly shortly after. These were very different looking than the ones that dispensed the stick gum. These vending machines now had a see through globe on top of them. This was for the purpose of interesting passersby in purchasing the gum. Gumball vending machines were a new thing, colorful and inexpensive, they caught on quickly. Continue Reading

The tops of the vending machines were made of glass; this has since been replaced by plastic, so the colorful choices are easy to see. On the top there is a metal lid which has a keyhole. When this is opened by the vendor with the special key the gumball machines can be refilled.

Since these machines do not require an electrical outlet they can be placed just about anywhere. Still, you will notice that gumball vending machines are very carefully placed so that they are not sitting in direct sunlight or somewhere that it gets too hot. This is because sticky gum will not sell well nor will machines work that get gummed up by the melting candy. As well, the colors, which are a major drawing point, will fade in the sunlight.

When it comes to gumball vending machines the Ford Gum Company is the most well known producer in the business. Making the machines for the last forty years they are well known for making not only gumball vending machines for those looking to get into the gumball business but as well they are known for helping charities with their large variety of machines as well as for novelty items for someone’s home, office or place of business. They make gumball machines that are as small as six inches and as large as the more common fifteen inch models. Whichever models are used gumball vending machines are still as popular today at twenty five cents a piece as they were when they sold for a penny.