Museum Talk

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Do you remember when a Coke cost five cents? The Buffalo Island Museum has a Coca-Cola bottling machine from the early 1950s. It is a Vendo 39 model and was donated by Johnny Jones.

Coke machine on display at Buffalo Island Museum

This model was produced from 1949 to 1957. The earlier models were all red like the one at the museum. In the mid to late 1950s, the machines were red and white. This machine held thirty-nine 6 1/2 ounce bottles contained in a drum that rotated to dispense the bottles. After putting in a coin, one opened the small door and removed a soda. The coin dispenser on the front took both nickels and dimes.

In 1886, Coca-Cola was invented by a pharmacist named John Pemberton. He wanted to invent a non-alcoholic beverage. Mr. Pemberton didn't live to see the tremendous success of his product as he died in 1888.

Asa Griggs Candler bought the formula for $2,300. He made millions from his investment, largely due to his aggressive marketing of the product. In the early days of Coca-Cola, small town and city dwellers enjoyed the drink at their local soda fountain, mostly located at the drug store which was a meeting place for the young and old.

It was in the early 1920s that the first automatic vending machine started dispensing sodas into cups. In the late 1920s and 1930s, the Coca-Cola ice box machines were popular. The customer would take out a drink and then pay the store owner. The first Coca-Cola bottle vending machine was built by The Vendolator Company in 1937. It was not until 1961 that canned soda machines were invented.

Today the canned soda vending machines have over 15 billion dollars in sales. The machines have more features than one could ever imagine. It can keep an inventory of sales and can download data on the internet.

Yet, the old Coca-Cola vending machines from the 1950s are highly collectable. They are being refinished to their original look, and are being used in peoples game rooms now that Coca-Cola is producing their product in smaller bottles that will fit in the antique machines.

The Coca-Cola machine at the museum brings back memories of when one had a quarter, bought a soda for a nickel, had enough money left to buy a candy bar and go the movies...ah the "good old days".

The Buffalo Island Museum is closed during the winter months, but arrangements can be made if a group wants a tour. Persons may call 870-486-5720 or Monette City Hall at 870-486-2000; email: or go to the Facebook site for more information, pictures, and upcoming events.

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  • I remember buying cokes out of Glass auto parts in Leachville, where Kirbys Malt shops at now, Frances Glass had one inside at the right of you as you come through the front door of the parts store. I really miss those days, supprizes ya seeing something like that brings back the event as it were yesterday. Jim Atkinson LHS Sr 70/71

    -- Posted by oldiebutgoodus on Sat, Feb 11, 2012, at 11:14 PM
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