Happy 121st Birthday! The gum vending machine

 
Lotte Green Gum Machine, originally uploaded by kshibano.

We can thank Greek engineer/mathematician Hero for creating the first vending machines in 215 BC (coins for holy water).

In 1888, the first US vending machines made their appearance on New York City subway platforms, thanks to a familiar force in the history of gum: Thomas Adams.

There’s a great site called gumballs.com which provides an overview of chewing gum itself and, as you might guess, the history of gumball/gum vending machines, including these insights:

Vending machines finally made their United States debut in 1888 when the Thomas Adams Gum Company installed machines on subway platforms in New York City that vended Tutti-Frutti gum. In 1897, the Pulver Manufacturing Company added animated figures to their vending machines, which provided added entertainment for the customer as the figures would move once coins were deposited into the machine.

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