Cool Things - Coca Cola Vending Machine
A Kansas City company was a vending machine pioneer.
The modern beverage-vending machine, so universally recognized today, has some roots in Kansas City. From 1937 to 1956, the Vendo Company of Kansas City, Missouri, developed and maintained the earliest forms of vending machine technology.
Prior to the use of coin-operated vending machines, soda bottles were distributed from coolers packed with ice, and payment was on the honor system. Capitalizing on the lack of effective payment collection, brothers Elmer and John Pierson of Kansas City developed a coin-operated locking lid to be placed on common ice chests. This, in effect, created the first vending machine.
The Pierson brothers continued to develop this technology after establishing The Vendo Company in 1937. The Vendo Company built and maintained Coca-Cola machines throughout the Midwest until 1956 when it merged with Vendorlater, a former Pepsi-Cola bottling company, and moved to California.
Emblazoned at the top of all Coca-Cola vending machines is the softdrink company's easily recognizable name. The Coca-Cola Company was established in 1899; throughout the 20th century it ensured its logo was seen on a variety of products. Today, Coca-Cola remains the best example of the modern marketing tactic known as name recognition. The mass production of Coca-Cola items makes it a popular genre for collectors.
The machine pictured on this page was manufactured by Kansas City-based Vendo in 1951. Collectors often refer to it by its model number, Vendo-81A. The Kansas Historical Society's maintenance staff used this machine until 1980. Shortly afterwards, it was placed on display in the Kansas Museum of History's main gallery.
Entry: Cool Things - Coca Cola Vending Machine
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: April 2003
Date Modified: December 2014
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.