Vending Machines – The Early Years

The first vending machines used at the workplace were in North America in 1946, and it had taken another ten years prior to concept reached the Combined Kingdom.

Pioneering British junk food companies such as Autobar, Ditchburn, Fisher & Ludlow, GKN Sankey and Gloster, together with United states and European manufacturers such as Avenco, National Vendors, Vendo, and Wittenborg, all commenced to flourish in the new growth industry of commercial vending. paper muffin cup machine

Shortly after a firm emerged that used very persuasive and daunting selling methods – Crusader Vendors – who at their peak were offering a huge selection of machines each week – and helped raise the drinks vending machine inhabitants and drinks vending recognition substantially. 

Major food manufacturers were quick to see the potential of vended products and were soon producing packs of tea, coffee, chocolate as well as powdered milk and so on., all formulated specially for use in the refreshments vending machine.

One of the primary development areas at the time was at the manufacture of disposable cups. Initially produced paper cups were produced, but soon plastic glasses became the vogue and companies such as Conex, and Mono were increasing rapidly. Nowadays the situation has reversed, and newspaper cups are back in demand, probably due to green issues.

One problem the early drinks machine suppliers were faced with, was acceptance of the quality of the drink – particularly the tea.

Inside the 60’s, fresh infused tea was by far the most popular drink in the UK and most personnel at the time, a glass of instant tea made with powdered milk was definitely a no-no.

A lot of companies attemptedto increase the quality of instant tea by using fresh milk. Sadly, due to the brief life of fresh dairy, problems with cleanliness and hygiene ensured that these machine never took off. With the introduction of fresh leaf tea junk food machines in the later 60’s the acceptance of the beverage vending machine in the British office started out to be more readily accepted.

Also a new sort of machine and drink vending system was introduced back in the 60’s by two companies – Klix ( a trademark the confectionery giant Mars) and Maxpax ( a label of Maxwell House/General Foods).

Employing drinks that were loaded in the disposable cups of themselves, in-cup drinks snack broke new ground in the vending industry with machines which needed very little cleaning and maintenance.

It was (and still is) this cleaning and maintenance of drinks machines that is crucial to the achievements of any installation. This is why the seventies and eighties saw the trend of self owned machines change to machines serviced and cleaned by outside professional vending operating companies – particulaly with companies with many machines installed in the same buidling.