Did you know that snack and drink vending machines date back to 215 BC? That's right. But the first machine did not dispense candy bars or soda — it was actually a sophisticated urn invented by Hero, a Greek mathematician, to provide holy water for worship in Egyptian temples. It even accepted money.
Here's how it worked: Each worshipper had to deposit a coin, which would push down a lever connected to a valve set to release the holy water. Eventually the coin would fall off and the machine would reset itself using a counter-weight. Talk about an ode to a Grecian urn!
Even centuries later, when merchants started using more recognizable machines in the 1880s, snack machines were still a distant spot on the horizon. In fact, the first modern vending machine were introduced in 19th-century London to dispense post cards and books. It wasn't until vending machines came to the United States that things started getting interesting (and tasty). The
Thomas Adams Gum Company, the country's first vending manufacturer, started selling Tutti-Fruiti gum in vending machines in 1888. The initial machines were disturbed throughout the New York City Subway system, ensuring that a lot of people would see them.
The Tutti-Fruiti snack vending machines opened the floodgates for these machines for sale of all kinds. The first soda machine emerged at the beginning of the 1920s, however it didn't dispense cans or bottles — instead, the machine poured customers' drinks into cups. Drink vending machines featuring canned soda were not introduced until 1961.
Drink vending machines dispensing coffee came a bit later than soda machines, in 1946, but these devices were still significant to the industry, as they allowed vending machines for sale to break into the office world. Coffee machines continued to develop over the subsequent decades, offering single cups of coffee in 1960, bean-grinders in 1988, and specialty beverages like cappuccino in 1991.
The cigarette vending machine - a rare sight in the 21st century - was invented in 1926 and became a staple in many stores. Cigarette vending machines have become less common in the United States over the past decade due to health concerns and the illegality of selling cigarettes to minors. Canada banned cigarette machines in the 1980s, however they continue to exist in the United States, but usually in areas where everyone is over 18, such as clubs.
Believe it or not, vending machines have even been used to sell insurance. In the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, many airports featured vending machines with life insurance policies covering plane crash fatalities. These machines were financial goldmines for insurance providers, as they capitalized on many people's fears of flying.
Regardless of its contents, the vending machine is an iconic part of our economy and culture, representing the progress of the Industrial Age during which it became popular. The enormous success of vending machines for sale even inspired a number of other devices, including slot and pinball machines. And we owe it all to Hero.
At www.USelectIt.com you can find traditional or non-traditional
snack vending machines
, food, drink vending machines , or coffee vending. USI works with you to develop innovative equipment solutions, financing programs that meet your needs, management systems leading the industry with vending programs to maximize profits for any size location.