Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Vending Machines and Gumball Machines

Before I go on with this blog entry, I just wanted to take a little bit of time out to offer my public condolences to the family of Tim Bosma.

As some of you living in Canada may know by now, Tim Bosma was a 32-year-old married father of one who disappeared after taking a couple of men out on a test drive of the truck that he had advertised for sale on the online classified service, Kijiji. He never made it home. Yesterday his remains were found, and a suspect has been charged in his murder with another two reportedly still at large.

I can't even imagine what his wife must be going through, nor do I want to imagine his final moments on this planet. And, I am also hoping that when they find all parties responsible for his death that they are dealt swift justice. Nobody deserved the fate that Tim Bosma endured.

So, I'd like to have a moment of silence in honour of Tim Bosma, a man whose life was tragically cut short beyond his time.

Now, that being said, I'm going to find it very difficult to talk about today's subject as it sort of contrasts with the sad introduction. Nevertheless, I had already chosen this topic prior to hearing the news, so as they say in Hollywood, the show must go on.

And today for the Wednesday edition of the blog, we're going to be talking something that was a huge fixture in my childhood.

Actually, you know what? At nearly 32 years of age, I STILL indulge in one of these things every now and again.

These objects are a fixture at every shopping mall, department store, hospital lobby, college campus, and even at my father's workplace, if you can believe it. In most cases, these things provided you with delicious goodies, quenching drinks, chewy gum, and salty snacks. But sometimes you could even get a shiny new ring, a super bouncy ball, or my personal favourite, a small container of green slime!

This is the entry on vending machines and gumball machines. And, how I reckon that through my entire childhood I spent hundreds of dollars in quarters on these types of machines.

(No, wait. Correction. My PARENTS spent hundreds of dollars in quarters on these types of machines.)

But I couldn't help it. As a child, the vending machines were filled with all sorts of yummy treats that if I ate too many of them would spoil my entire dinner. For what it's worth, my parents made sure that if I did get a treat out of the vending machine, that I ate dinner first!

Of course, there were times in which I would sneak candy inside the house without my parents knowing. When I was in elementary school, we didn't have such a thing as vending machines that sold sugary sweets or carbonated beverages (I guess one way of looking at it is that my elementary school was ahead of its time). But the lobby of the hospital that I used to pass by on my way home from school was filled with them.

I know, ironic that a place that is supposed to promote good health and make people better has vending machines that are filled with the most unhealthiest food choices that ever existed.

But what did I know? I was a kid.

About once I week, I would get an allowance of five dollars (which was a lot of money back in the late 1980s). And, after I bought that week's comic book at the hospital gift shop, I would always have enough change for me to purchase something from the vending machine just across the hall. Among some of my favourite treats were Hickory Sticks, C-Plus Orange Soda, Five Flavour Life Savers, and Mirage Chocolate Bars.

Or, if they didn't have Mirage available, I would select either Reese Peanut Butter Cups or Caramilk. I was very fussy when it came to chocolate bars.

Now, I know what you're saying. You're probably wondering why I didn't just buy treats inside the hospital gift shop. In all likelihood, I could understand your confusion because in many cases, the food items inside the gift shop were quite a bit cheaper than the ones inside the vending machine. But, you also have to understand that I was a kid who got entertained by the most basic of concepts.

What can I say? I got a rush feeding nickels, dimes, quarters (and as I grew older, loonies) into the vending machines. For one, it was a great way to teach basic addition. After all, you had to have the right amount of coinage in order to get the sweet treat you were craving. But there was also something satisfying about hearing the clinking of coins as you inserted them inside the machine.

Of course, vending machines did have their problems as well. There is nothing more annoying than paying your money, pushing the buttons necessary for a bag of chips, and then having the chips get stuck inside the machine. That was the most frustrating thing ever. It wasn't as though you could shake the machine in order to get it dislodged. As a kid, I wasn't strong enough to even budge the machine. And besides the security staff would have tossed me out if they caught me trying. So I either didn't get my chips, or I would have to buy another bag in order to get the original bag that I had already paid for.

I was also a huge fan of those gumball machines that you would frequently see at department stores and shopping malls. We have a selection of candy and gumball machines located at the back of the store I look at, and I gotta tell you...even though I'm in my thirties, I would still get tempted by the various goodies inside of them!

Clearly, the most common type of gumball machine are the ones that contain...well...gumballs.

It wasn't the fact that I absolutely loved gumballs and had to have one every day of my life. Truth be told, there were some colours of gumballs that I absolutely despised.

NOTE TO ALL: Do not give me yellow gumballs. I have never liked artificial banana flavoured anything. Blue, purple, orange, and green are perfectly fine. I'm indifferent to red, pink, and white.

But for me, it wasn't about the gumball. It was once again about the fun that I had sticking the quarters in the machine.

As I said before, I got entertained by the dumbest things as a kid.

Sometimes I would insert quarters inside the gumball machine at many as four times before I got the flavour of gumball I wanted. I can't begin to tell you how many times I stuck a quarter inside the machine, and my first gumball was the disgusting yellow.

I think the machines that I loved more than the gumball machines were the machines that gave out toys inside. Mind you, those machines charged at least a quarter more than the typical gumball machine, but it was worth it.

And, the best part was that every six months or so, the gumball machines would be emptied out and replaced with brand new toys and games, so you were always wondering what would come next.

Now, the toys inside weren't much. I would imagine that the vast majority could be found inside of a box of Cracker Jacks. But again, I state that I was entertained very easily as a kid.

Among some of my favourite non-gumball gumball machines were the following.

  • Temporary tattoos. I think I was introduced to the temporary tattoo via a gumball machine inside of Zellers, I think it was? I can't really remember. But I must not have been the only one who popped quarters inside that machine, as almost every kid at my school were covered with tattoos that summer.
  • Green Slime. I'm almost certain that my love of green slime was enhanced by the popular television show “You Can't Do That On Television”. So, when I saw a machine that promised kids an entire container filled with slime, I had to have it. And, for what it was worth, I didn't get upset if I didn't get green slime. I was just as happy with red, black, white, and pink slime too.
  • Stickers. There was a bit of a childhood phase that I went through where I was obsessed with stickers, and I had to get stickers from all sources. And, yes, this included gumball machines.

And, that's really all that I have to say about my experiences with vending and gumball machines. What are some of yours?

1 comment:

  1. When I went to Japan, I observed that they have the weirdest and perhaps the widest variety of vending machines. Their vending machines vend just about anything from fresh fish to bicycles, fresh fruits and vegetables to lobsters, etc. They have so many of them that it is weird but fun though. :)