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Bubble Gum Machines

Bubble gum machines can add panache to your home. Here's how.

The classic bubble gum machine style is Ford Gum and Machine Company's carousel. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
The classic bubble gum machine style is Ford Gum and Machine Company's carousel.

Bubble gum machines are popular novelty decorations for home offices, kitchens and family rooms. The most recognizable bubble gum machine style is the carousel, first created by the Ford Gum and Machine Company in 1934. The carousel is available in three sizes -- king, junior and petite -- in the original Ford design. At 15 inches tall, the king size is the largest of the carousel bubble gum machines and holds three to four pounds of gumballs.

Today, bubble gum machines are available in many sizes and cover a wide price range. Most tabletop bubble gum machines can be purchased online at GumBalls.com for $30 to $80. Consumers can also purchase bubble gum machines through local restaurant suppliers and vending machine businesses that carry bubble gum machines for private use. Floor model bubble gum machines range in price from $350 to $3,000 and range in size from 4 feet to 7 feet 6 inches tall.

Bubble gum machines intended for use in the home can be adjusted to dispense gumballs without payment. Many bubble gum machines have a setting in the coin mechanism called "free play" or "free spin," which allows the bypass of the coin mechanism. A customer purchasing a bubble gum machine can also request that the manufacturer or vendor disengage the mechanism in the machine's coin slot.

Types of Bubble Gum Machines and Accessories

Online sites that sell and customize bubble gum machines offer a vast selection of machines and quick price comparisons.

An arcade-style bubble gum machine that dispenses gumballs as rewards would suit a family game room. Examples of arcade style bubble gum machines include crane games, claw machines, pinball machines or a football table with an attached bubble gum machine. Smaller, interactive bubble gum machines release gumballs at the end of a completed game, such as a basketball-themed game.

Spiral bubble gum machines light up and play music as the gumball is released from the globe. Bubble gum travels through a spiral dispenser that is visible through the clear neck of the machine. Spiral bubble gum machines are commonly 5 feet tall, but are available less than 3 feet and as tall as 7 feet, 6 inches.

Online bubble gum machine retailers commonly offer accessories and replacement parts for bubble gum machines. The most common accessories for bubble gum machines are glass decals and stands that allow tabletop bubble gum machines to be used as floor models. Stands for bubble gum machines can usually be purchased for $100 or less. Parts commonly advertised for bubble gum machines are replacement glass globes and coin slot mechanisms. Replacement globes come in all shapes, sizes and are now available in plastic as well as glass.

Decorating with Bubble Gum Machines

Bubble gum machines can be fun additions to the home without ever dispensing a gumball. Using a kit from a hardware store, bubble gum machines may be converted into a decorative table lamp. Once the inner mechanisms have been removed, bubble gum machines also make interesting fishbowls. Unless a very large bubble gum machine is used, bubble gum fish tanks best fit a single goldfish or beta.

Bubble gum machines are made in many creative designs like jukeboxes, rocket ships and slot machines. Bubble gum machines made to replicate antique gas pumps are most popular as large floor models, but can be found in smaller versions for tabletops.

Besides the bubble gum machine itself, the globe of the bubble gum machine may fit a theme. Bubble gum machine globes can be shaped like a football, textured to simulate a golf ball or painted as a soccer ball, baseball or basketball.

The glass globes of bubble gum machines may be etched with a company logo or name. The American Gumball Machine Company offers decals for bubble gum machine globes that depict NASCAR emblems, insignias for an alma mater, fraternity or sorority letters and the logos of professional sports teams.

Refills for Bubble Gum Machines

Merchandise commonly sold to refill bubble gum machines also includes jawbreakers, bouncy balls and toy capsules. National candy stores such as Sweet Factory carry gumballs and other candies often used in bubble gum machine, like M&M's, Skittles and Reese's Pieces.

Online retailers such as Gumball Machine Warehouse sell wholesale bubble gum machine refill packages. Regular and sugar-free gumballs for refilling bubble gum machines are available for purchase sorted by size and/or color. Gumball.com personalizes gumballs with food-safe ink used to imprint gumballs with company logos or names for parties and other promotional purposes.

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