How Does a Bubble Gum Machine Work?

By Michael Hinckley

Coin Operated

Bubble Gum Machines

The main actuator for a coin-operated gumball machine is the horizontal crank on the outside which usually has a coin slot at its base. When the correct type of coin (as judged by size and weight) is put into the slot, it depresses a small lever inside the coin slot which allows the crank to turn. Without a coin, the crank can not turn to engage the internal disk.

Gears Meshing

As the external crank moves, the gears on its horizontal axle turn a vertical axle. When this vertical axle turns, it causes a disk at its top to rotate. This disk has a small hole in it to allow a single (or sometimes multiple) gumballs to pass through.

Gumball Slide

The gum balls are held in a hopper; a large holding tank at the top of the machine. When the disk which holds them in place turns, a small hole in the disk rotates, allowing a gumball to pass through into a small tube or slide. The gumball is pulled by gravity down the slide until it exits the gumball machine. This can be as simple as a slide a few inches long ending at a weighted, metal door that the customer opens to retrieve their gumball, or can be a complex slide that is several feet in length and which causes the gumball to do loops, jumps, or spins before finally being vended to the customer.

About the Author

Michael Hinckley received a Bachelor of Arts degree in US history from the University of Cincinnati, a Master of Arts degree in Middle East history from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Hinckley is conversant in Arabic, and is a part-time lecturer at two Midwestern universities.