The 9 Best Gumball Machines

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This wiki has been updated 33 times since it was first published in September of 2015. Got a bubble gum lover in your family? Then how about treating him or her to one of these fun and decorative gumball machines. They will dispense the delicious chews on demand, with or without a coin, and can also serve up other small candies, too, if preferred. As a bonus, the coin-operated models serve double-duty as piggy banks, so you can teach your young ones how to save their money. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Great Northern Vintage

2. Hello Kitty Dispenser

Editor's Notes

March 18, 2019:

For its traditional design and reliable operation, the Great Northern Vintage retained its spot at number one. Elsewhere, a pair of entries left our selection, both of which were made by Carousel. Their Texaco pump model was plagued by availability issues, and glass that proved dangerously fragile caused us to remove the 12-inch bank for safety reasons. Generally speaking, broken glass and gumballs don't mix. One new player entered the game, however, and it's poised to offer a much better option for businesses than others on the market. That's the offering by Wholesale Vending Products, which is probably the most heavy-duty model on our list.

4. Wholesale Vending Products Economy

5. Sweet N Fun Light And Sound

6. Godinger Classy Way

7. Rhode Island Novelty Spiral

8. Schylling Classic Coin Bank

9. Disney Star Wars Darth Vader

Color, Variety, And Simple Pleasure

Instead, your main concern is keeping the machine filled and letting it do the work for you.

Whether you plan to open a candy store or you're simply looking for the perfect gift to appease the sweet treat aficionado in your life, a gumball machine is a colorful, fun, and inexpensive option to consider. The machine is a silent salesman, meaning that you don't have to invest a lot of time in its use or operation. Instead, your main concern is keeping the machine filled and letting it do the work for you.

The gumball machine is a coin-operated vending machine that dispenses gum and other candies or small toys. It consists of a clear glass or plastic sphere that houses the gumballs and sits atop a metal base. Additional components common to the machine include: a top cap and lock, which keep the candy secured; a coin mechanism, complete with both a coin slot and crank knob for operation; an internal gumball wheel at the bottom of the sphere, with precut dispensing holes; and a candy shoot down which the gumballs ultimately drop.

After you insert currency into the machine's coin slot, and rotate the crank knob in a clockwise direction, a coin wheel inside the mechanism spins, forcing the coin to come out of the back of the mechanism and drop into a cash box within the machine's base. At the same time, a gear inside the mechanism also spins the machine's gumball dispensing wheel, which is located at the bottom of the sphere and underneath the gumball hopper. The dispensing wheel resembles a circular-shaped piece of Swiss cheese with an arrangement of holes that, when lined up with the machine's opening over the gum shoot, allow a predetermined number of gumballs to drop into the shoot and roll toward the shoot door where you can collect them. Depending on the design, the machine may operate without receiving any money at all.

The excitement, anticipation, and lack of certainty about what comes from the machine provides much of its charm and magic, especially for kids. Because the machine is manufactured in different shapes, colors, and designs, it is easy to theme and place them strategically in locations that receive a lot of foot traffic. A themed gumball machine also makes a fun birthday gift and a colorful addition to a child's bedroom decor. As more than just a simple toy, the machine is even used for research and development purposes and as a teaching aid for understanding and visualizing abstract concepts in math, science, and engineering that are better explained through the use of color, variation, and design.

Unique Methods For Instant Gratification

Location, use, and the intended recipient are all considerations one must make when purchasing a gumball machine. Commercial units are designed for store countertop use and for mounting on a stand made from something sturdy, like cast iron or heavy steel. For the shop owner, durable materials and use of the stand also keep the machine's contents protected from impacts, pilfering, and extreme weather when located outdoors.

If you have a kid who tends to be on the messy side, look for a gumball machine with some type of anti-spill door cover in front of its gumball shoot.

A domestic or free-spin machine is most likely to grace the shelves and countertops of your child's bedroom. This type of machine should also be durable and made from die cast metal, steel, or a sturdy plastic. It should have the capability to work with and without coins, allowing your kid to learn the value of saving money. Some gumball machines also operate as piggy banks themselves, so finding one with an adequately-sized cash drawer is beneficial when you decide to use the machine as an incentive for saving an allowance.

Consider the different styles available. Some machines are equipped with their own lights, sounds, and elaborately-shaped gumball chutes, all of which add a sense of fun and uniqueness to the environment in which they sit. Domestic machines may also be found with decorative patterns depicting characters from children's television shows or Hollywood films. These features make the machine a great gift for display at birthday parties and as a means for sprucing up drab decor in places like dental and doctor offices, where their contents may serve as a reward or incentive for children who endure potentially unpleasant visits.

If you have a kid who tends to be on the messy side, look for a gumball machine with some type of anti-spill door cover in front of its gumball shoot. When the machine dispenses several candies at once, the door cover helps to prevent the sweets from simply rolling onto the floor.

A Brief History Of The Gumball Machine

The first gumball machines were developed in the early 20th century by American glassmaker and inventor Thomas Adams. Working as secretary to Mexican president Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna in the 1860s, Adams was fascinated by the white sap produced by the Manilkara chicle tree, which Santa Anna chewed on a regular basis.

The Norris Manufacturing Company later marketed its patented Master line of chrome-style gumball machines during the 1930s, which accepted both pennies and nickels.

Although Adams failed in his attempts to use this sap to develop a commercially-viable and inexpensive rubber alternative, he was able to use it to manufacture chewing gum instead. Following his 1888 invention of a vending machine to sell the Black Jack and Tutti-Frutti brands of chewing gum, Adams designed one of the first gumball machines in 1907. The Norris Manufacturing Company later marketed its patented Master line of chrome-style gumball machines during the 1930s, which accepted both pennies and nickels. By 1934, the Ford Gum and Machine Company began selling the machines to local charities during the Great Depression.

By the 1950s, Arthur Gold of Illinois invented the Carousel brand of gumball machine. Gold's company, Carousel Industries, became the leading manufacturer of gumball machines up until the 1980s when it was sold to the Ford Gum and Machine Company. Since that time, the machines have been designed with more elaborate features, including lights, sounds, and spiral ramps to attract customers young and old. Regardless of its location, the gumball machine retains much of its intrinsic value as both a novelty and collectible item with functionality that transcends both time and generational gaps.

Daniel Imperiale
Last updated by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel Imperiale holds a bachelor’s degree in writing, and proudly fled his graduate program in poetry to pursue a quiet life at a remote Alaskan fishery. After returning to the contiguous states, he took up a position as an editor and photographer of the prestigious geek culture magazine “Unwinnable” before turning his attention to the field of health and wellness. In recent years, he has worked extensively in film and music production, making him something of a know-it-all when it comes to camera equipment, musical instruments, recording devices, and other audio-visual hardware. Daniel’s recent obsessions include horology (making him a pro when it comes to all things timekeeping) and Uranium mining and enrichment (which hasn’t proven useful just yet).

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