History of Gumball Machines
We have all enjoyed an occasional gumball from a nearby gumball machine for our entire lives. As you might guess, these novelties haven't been around forever. While vending machines or vending kiosks have been around for centuries, the traditional gumball machine as we know it got it's start in the late 19th century.
Expert Mary Bellis, in an article written about the origin of the gumball machine, states: "In 1888, the Thomas Adams Gum Company introduced the very first vending machines to the United States. The machines were installed on the elevated subway platforms in New York City and sold Tutti-Fruiti gum. In 1897, the Pulver Manufacturing Company added animated figures to its gum machines as an added attraction. The round candy coated gumball and gumball vending machines were introduced in 1907."
Most gumball machines that we see today, including those produced by OK Manufacturing, have a simple mechanism for dispensing the gumball, to the point of the actual dispensation being either plainly visible (as in the case of the RoadRunner) or completely invisible (after turning the handle the gumball is deposited behind the door). Many of our machines have more elaborate methods. Most of them utilize the potential energy of the gumball's location above the base, by, for instance, causing it to roll down a spiral ramp, or a set of diagonal disks (each one is tilted in an opposite) with holes in lowest point. The most elaborate mechanisms, like that of the SportsBall, also use electricity to power various forms of transit for the gumball on its way to dispensation (e.g. lifts and pulleys), as well as numerous ramps, drops and paths.
The history of gumball machines really goes back quite a bit earlier, however- even back to 251 BC. Vending machines came about in 251BC when a Greek mathematician invented a machine that could vend Holy water in the Egyptian temples. Many years following that the first coin-operated vending machines were invented that dispensed post cards in the early 1880’s in London, England. Years later, Richard Carlisle, an English professor invented a vending machine that could dispense books.
When OK Manufcaturing's founders Jeff Ostler and Kurt Ostler decided to get into the gumball machine business over 15 years ago, they were fascinated by the possibility of creating large machines that let the ball twist down the slide before being retrieved by the customer. The RoadRunner Gumball Machine was born and was quickly followed by a wide range of other gumball and vending machines. The RoadRunner- both 5 foot and the 4 foot Mini version, has been sold by the thousands for years and years. Chances are you've seen several in your lifetime and have probably popped a quarter into one at least once. These authentic machines are still made by hand today- with each part being masterfully crafted and assembled by professionals here in America.
Some have predicted a slowing in gumball sales with the popularity of debit cards, credit cards and electronic venders. Fortunately, the gumball machine is here to stay. As OK Manufacturing continues to grow each year, the gumball machine line-up grows stronger and stronger as well. If you've ever walked a child by a RoadRunner Spiral Gumball Machine, you'll know why.