Collecting and Valuing the Antique Carousel Gumball Machine

History of the Carousel Gumball Machine

In the 1950's Arthur Gold of Des Plaines, IL invented the Carousel brand gumball machine.  At one time, his company Carousel Industries was the world’s largest manufacturers of gumball machines. In the 1980's the company was sold to Ford Gum & Machine Co. 

15" tall King size Carousel Gumball Machine

The base of a Carousel gumball machine is made of die cast metal and has a powder coat finish. The globe where gumballs reside is made of glass. The machines are designed for personal use and SHOULD NOT be used in a commercial setting. This is because 1) the glass globe will shatter if the machine is tipped over 2) the coin mechanism will accept almost any coins, including slugs. The Carousel machine will happily vend small size (0.5"- 0.625" diameter) gumballs plus small candies like M&M's, Skittles and the like. The machine works best if gum and candy are not mixed together. 

Over time, Carousel gumball machines have been made in various sizes, shapes, and colors. Today, the machines are being produced in red only. In the past, the company produced some novelty machines, such as a green and brown mallard duck gumball machine, which can be found on eBay from time to time, and even some of their old machines play music.

Mallard Duck gumball machine by Carousel Industries

In 1988 Carousel came out with the Junior Gumball Machine Telephone. This whimsical product combined both a working digital telephone and a coin operated gumball dispenser. The image below shows the product and the original box it was packaged in plus the owner's manual and warranty card. 

Junior Carousel Gumball Machine Telephone 1988

The machines were initially produced in the United States but later production was moved to China. The models made today still have the copyright 1985 embossed on the top right hand side of the coin mechanism. Just because it has the 1985 stamp does not mean it's vintage.

Are Carousel Industries Gumball Machines Collectible?

Carousel brand gumball machines were produced in large numbers and unfortunately vintage machines are not rare. As mentioned above, new machines are still being produced in China. The original machines have two notches in both the top and bottom of the globe lip. These notches are to secure the globe and keep it from being turned. The older machines also have a sticker posted on the bottom base with Carousel Industries logo, name, model number, and possibly phone number (now disconnected).

Carousel gumball machine with Coke logo

Over the years, many of the Carousel machines have been used as advertising or promotions, as companies have been known to have their logo or name printed or etched on the surface of the globe (to buy a customized Carousel machine of your own, click custom logo branded machine). Some advertising collectors may be attracted to the vintage machines as a result.

The 15" King Carousel gumball machine has a female threaded receptacle on the base that mates to 22" tall antique style pedestal stand. Together they stand at 37" tall. Today the stands are available only in black but in the past they've been produced in the color red that matches the base. On rare occasion, older 12" Junior size machines have the threaded based and can be mounted to a stand. The new Junior machine is designed to be a table top version only.

What is the value of a Carousel Gumball Machine?

Brand new Carousel gumball machines are widely available today and are generally sold for $30 - $80, depending if stand is included. Used vintage equipment sells for slightly more than new, in the range of $20 - $130 at flea markets, antique stores, or online at eBay.

Where Can I Buy 1-Inch Sugarless Gumballs?

So you want the larger size gumballs, like the ones you've seen in professional grade gumball machines, but without the added sugar?

Unfortunately, your request is impossible to fulfill as no major ball gum manufacturer makes the product you want. Why you ask? The reason is simple. The majority of the demand for one-inch diameter gumballs comes from vending machine operators. These people are a savvy bunch and they require their product to be relatively cheap so they can make profit. The cost of making sugarless gum is 3X the cost of regular gum and operators can't make money charging a quarter for a product with triple the cost, so there's not enough demand to support production. 

Bet you didn't know that the only manufacturer in North America to make sugar free gumballs is Ford Gum & Machine based in Akron, NY. Yes their gum is made in America! All the sugar free stick gum that you see merchandised next to checkout stand at the grocery store happens to be made in Canada.

Click the link to support USA businesses and buy sugarless gumballs in a small size.

Where can I buy a key for a gumball or candy machine?

Do you have an old gumball or candy vending machine that you've lost the key and want to buy a replacement? It happens all the time.

Types of Vending Machine Keys

The first thing you need to know is that there is no such thing as a universal key that will open all machines. The most common vending machine keys are either tubular or flat.

The tubular version, sometimes referred to as a barrel key, has a hollow, cylindrical shaft with grooves of varying length cut into the exterior surface at the end of the shaft. These grooves cause the pins in the lock to slide to the end of the groove and open the lock.

The flat key looks like your typical house key and can have teeth on one or two sides, the latter being more secure.

Beaver machine flat key and lock

Where to Buy a Replacement Key

Vending machine manufacturers have many versions of lock and key sets and they assign key codes to distributors and end users randomly across the country. This practice is to prevent route operators in the same area from having the same key. How'd you like it if your competitor "serviced" your machine and cleaned out your hard earned cash each month?

Ok, here's the good news. If you happen to know the manufacturer of your machine AND know the "key code" that was stamped ON the key (not the lock), then you might be in luck. The following manufacturers sell individual keys without locks:

  • Carousel - no longer produced and now considered an antique. Shop ebay
  • Wizard Spiral Gumball Machines - click to buy
  • Northwestern

If you don't know the "key code" then you will be forced to drill out the lock (click for instructions on how to do this). Unfortunately, the number stamped on the lock face is not useful and will not help you determine which key code is required. We offer a comprehensive selection of gumball and candy machine lock and key sets, click the link to shop.


The Benefits of Specialty Vending Machines

When most people think of vending machines, they think of candy, gum, snacks, and soda. However, these are not the only things that can be successfully delivered through a vending machine. Now, many businesses also provide specialty vending machines that can help make people's lives easier and more convenient.

If you are interested in adding a helpful, interesting vending machine to your business' lobby or other such area, you should consider providing a specialty vending machine for your customers and employees.

Types of Specialty Vending Machines

There are many more products sold in vending machines than just snacks and drinks. Specialty vending machines can be targeted to your business' regular customers, or they can provide goods appreciated by everyone, such as emergency band-aids or gauze. Some specialty vending machines that are quickly gaining in popularity include:

  • DVD vendors
  • CD vendors
  • Laundry vending machines
  • Medical product vending machines

Not only can specialty vending machines help people, they can also help you make a profit. For instance, if you own a Laundromat, you can provide a laundry vending machine to help people who forget their detergent. Your foresight in providing a vending machine can increase the popularity of your shop.

Contact Us

Specialty vending machines should be handy as well as trustworthy so that you do not have to worry about frequent maintenance. For reliable yet still cost-effective specialty vending machines, regular vending machines, and bulk items to fill the vendors, you should visit Gumball.com. For any additional questions, please call 1-800-260-0010 today.

Beverage, Snack and Food Vending Machines

Helpful Tips & Useful Information

Soda & Snack Machines: You can expect to spend $2,000 to $12,000 for new equipment, per machine, depending on the sophistication of the machines. Generally in vending the more you spend for a machine, the more you reap and the greater potential payoff. Location is always a big factor in any machine you choose to operate and service.

Cold drinks are the largest product segment for vending. New age averages, updated packaging, new equipment, and international opportunity indicate continued growth.

Snacks are and will continue to be one of the most popular types of vending.

Frozen food vending is a tool that will enable vending operators to eliminate manual food service while offering more food choices.


Categories: Hot Drinks, Cup-Cold Drinks, Canned-Cold Drinks, Bottled Drinks, Juice or Milk. Each category usually has its own specialty vending machine. Cold canned drinks (according to most industry surveys) are the biggest dollar volume for vending in the US today! The costs of the machines are higher, but most Americans are drinking 1-4 cans per day. Volume is increasing!

Bottled drinks are growing in popularity and some manufacturers have machines with the ability to vend both cans & bottles. One of those machines is the Seaga 18-6 Combo Vending Machine. This flexible machine features 18 different selections of candy, chips, pastries, snack bars, cookies and other snack options plus 6 different beverage choices in a space saving format. In many locations the withdrawal of cigarette machines creates new space for a variety of beverage machines.

Bottled water can be offered through current soda machines or a free standing water vending machine. Usual cost is .95-$1.50 cents per bottle. "Spring water" is a good seller.

Cold Beverages constitutes the largest portion of the vending business and placement of machines continues to grow! When purchasing your cold drink machines, check the compressor and all parts especially if buying used or refurbished. New equipment usually has a warranty with the contract. The product cost should be in the range of 50% and you should have more sales if keeping only top name brand soft drinks.

Automatic hot & cold cup beverage machines require more intricate service. You need to purchase condiment products such as cups, stir sticks, etc. Clean the inside and outside of machines regularly. They also require water hook-ups and the right mix for coffee. Seek advice from manufacturer or distributor for finding out all the service involved for a particular machine.


Categories: Salty Snacks, Nuts, Chocolate Candy, Non Chocolate Candy, Cookies, Crackers, Pastry, Filled Crackers, Snack Bars, Hard Rolled Candy and Gum. All categories are usually vended out of one vending machine.

We have found through our research, on the average, an employee, on a given workday, will consume 1 to 4 snacks per day. When shopping for a good snack location, consider the amount of employees, how many shifts and if the company is open 8-12 or 24 hours. How many convenience stores in the local area (competition). You can calculate the approximate amount of sales you might receive in a day.

Important Tip: Keep in mind snacks do get outdated. Make sure that you are supplying the location with the type of snacks they will consume. CHECK PRODUCT EXPIRATION DATES OFTEN!

Be sure to load your machine with a wide variety of fresh product. The more choices the customer has, the more they will buy. Do not leave any rows on the shelf empty! Fill all shelves front to back. Make price promotions a part of your marketing plan. In the snack or food machines, focus on one or two spots where promoted items will appear. You can discount up to 20%. Don't discount new items. Don't discount your biggest sellers.

Public Health Considerations for New Vending Businesses

As you consider entering the vending business, one aspect you must not overlook is the regulating of your business by the health department with regards to the health aspects of vending food and beverages. Sanitation has a direct bearing on a vending company's survival, and success. It is an essential component of any vending business. Should you have any questions about the public health aspects of the vending industry, please contact the NAMA Health, Safety and Technical Standards Department.


Categories: Hot, Cold or Frozen. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner?) Each category has its own specialty vending machine. Water and Fruit vending machines are growing in popularity, with the more health conscious consumer. Along with fat free or low fat snacks and foods. Keep in mind when considering what type of vending, foods have a shorter "shelf life" and become outdated.

Breakfast Foods: There is an opportunity to grow the breakfast business, which currently stands somewhere between 10 to 30 percent of all vend food sales. People do not have the time to take 30 minutes for breakfast. They tend to take an 8 minute breakfast or purchase from a vend machine in one. Bagels have grown in popularity, and the sausage/biscuit combo. The best breakfast customers are those working long hours and extra shifts.

Cold Foods: There has been an increase in cold food machines sell. What cold food does is give the locations more say in what products are served to their employees, and gives the vendor an opportunity to vend snacks and beverages. Popular cold food products: burgers, salad sandwiches, and ethnic foods like burritos, pizzas and Italian sandwiches are in demand. You may want to have a 90 day trial with an account once equipment has been installed, and offer the use of a microwave in break rooms to heat the food.

Types of Vending Machines
What type of vending machine do you want to own and operate?

Amusement Games:

  • Arcade Novelties, Basketball
  • Electronic Darts
  • Electronics & Monitors
  • Golf, Jukebox & Music
  • Kiddie Rides, Pinball
  • Pool, Slots
  • Table Top Skill Games
  • Video

Beverage/ Snack/ Food Machines:

  • Hot/Frozen/Refrigerated
  • Beverages
  • Coffee/Specialty Coffee
  • Fruit
  • Pop/Soda/Juice
  • Sandwich

Bulk Machines:

  • Baseball Cards, Candy, Capsules
  • Games, Gumball, Lollipop
  • Stickers, Tattoos, Trinkets, Toys
  • Change Machines
  • Coin Operated Laundry
  • Counter Top Video

Personal Products:

  • Condoms, First Aid
  • Travel Aids, Cigars
  • Pay Telephones
  • Phone Card Dispensers/Phone Cards
  • Photo Booths
  • Vending Carts

Tips & Useful Information

Locations: Locations are one of the most important aspects of the vending business. The placement of your vending machines will determine profitability of your route.

Top Redemption games in arcades: Alley Bowlers, Ball Boss, Kiddie Rides, Novelties, Pushers, Rolldowns, Shooting Games, Sports Games, Token Action Games, Video Redemptions and Whackers. Average commission paid on these locations is 25% to 50%.

Cranes Games:Fluff your plush - every service call and arrange stuffed animals so that all eyes are facing front. To help with sales: Purchase licensed products, such as NFL/ NBA/ Disney/etc. Try to buy pre-packs from plush suppliers. Seasonal pre-packs, sports merchandise, hats, t-shirts and novelties. Use the best, soft squeezable, well-made plush toys. Prices range from 50¢ to $15.00 each, depending on size and quantity.

Kiddie Rides: Kiddie Rides are a natural add-on for bulk. And more locations are accepting kiddie rides than in the past. Look for malls, pet stores, pizza parlors, and food courts for a prime location. Make sure to purchase liability Insurance.

Jukeboxes: If you own or operate a jukebox, you need to know that the United States Copyright Law protects the copyright owners of the music played on the jukebox. Make sure to do your research before placing a machine on your route.

Bulk Machines: Bulk vending is easy to do part-time and is proven to be successful. Low initial investment makes it an ideal home-based business with a high profit margin. Benefits include a weekly cash flow, unlimited growth and you can set your own hours.

Sticker Machines: Sticker machines prove profitable with the right merchandise. The machines typically have six columns, take up to 200 stickers and vend at 50 cents. Best success when changing merchandise once a month. Children and young adults are the buyers. Good sellers are tattoos, cat heads and happy faces, dog heads and Loony Toons and sports. Keep up on the latest fads, ask your product supplier for the hottest selling items. Average commissions paid are 30% of gross sales to the location.

Where to Buy Bulk Gumballs in Southern California

Gumball.com wholesales bulk gumballs, bulk candy and vending machines in the Southern California.  We cater to Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside and San Diego Counties.  If you have vending business and need bulk gumballs or bulk candy from a SoCal supplier, then Gumball.com is your local vending business resource.

Do you have questions about bulk candy, gumballs, or even spiral gumball machines? Call us toll-free at 1-800-260-0010 to obtain helpful information on gumball machines, gumball machine specifications, pricing, shipping and more.

We can help you if you are in the vending business in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside and San Diego County area and you vending supplies.

Local pickup available on bulk gumballs, bulk candy and some gumball machines.

Pro's and Con's of Operating Bulk Candy Vending Machines
Useful Tips & Information

Bulk Machines: Bulk vending is easy to do part-time and is proven to be successful. Low initial investment makes it an ideal home-based business with a high profit margin. Benefits include a weekly cash flow, unlimited growth and you can set your own hours.

Location, Location, Location: Locations are one of the most important aspects of the vending business. The placement of your vending machines will determine profitability of your route.

Pros: You may spend $40 to $2,700 on bulk candy vending machines as compared to $400 to $10,000 on other types of vending machines.

Cons: With bulk candy vending, there is a longer time span to receive large revenues. Make sure and do some research before you purchase.

Buying Bulk Product: You can purchase product from wholesale buying clubs, distributors or direct from the manufacturers. Always purchase the highest quality and freshest product available. The product may be cheaper per pound but if the quality isn't good, the customers will not buy the product a second time. Always purchase items you can use within a 30 day period. You always want to turn the product as fast as possible, so when you see that an item isn't moving, change out that product. Always give good amounts per vend… don’t be stingy! Customers want to feel that they’re getting their money's worth and you want the repeat business.

Climate Change: Candies will react differently in different climates and temperatures. Be aware of the location of the machines and the products in them. Avoid placing a machine directly in sunlight or in front of windows. The heat is magnified by the window and may cause damage to your product. Avoid chocolate items where the machine is not in air conditioning environment.

Filling the Machines: For the first fill, we recommend only filling each product bin half to two-thirds full. This will help keep your initial out-of-pocket costs down and you will get revenue from the machine to buy additional candy. Once you have experience with the location, you can adjust the amount of product with the demands of that location.

Keeping Fresh Candy: Always reseal each case after opening and store cases of candy 4 to 6 inches off the floor. Rotate both display and stored candy regularly. Make sure that your storage area is regularly inspected by a professional pest control service and DO NOT Spray household insecticides or cleaners around stored or displayed candy.

Service the Machines: Service the location about 10 days to 2 weeks after the initial placement. This will allow you to see how the unit is doing and make sure that everything is working well.

Cleaning Tips: Always keep the machine clean. When changing product, be sure to thoroughly clean the inside of the machine. Also remember to respect your customer's area by cleaning up your trash!

Service Tips: If you use Hot Tamales, Mike & Ikes or any jelly bean type product, you can help eliminate the “sticking together” problem by spraying the product with non-stick cooking spray. Place the product in a large mixing bowl, lightly coat with cooking spray and stir with wooden spoon before placing into the machine.

When removing the money from the machines you can use a large cup to put the money in or use a separate cup for each machine. Just place a piece of paper or service card with the location name in the cup or bag. This will help you have accurate information when it’s time to record all of your service calls.

Ask the employees what types of items they would like to have in the machines and change the products if needed.

11 Tips for Running a Successful Vending Business

These tips are fairly simple and sadly a lot of vending machine owners do not follow them. No matter where you are on your vending machine venture, adapt these 11 simple tips to keep your business running smoothly.

1. Always keep your vending machine fully stocked with fresh product.

2. Maintain the cleanliness of your machine.

3. Ensure your vending machine is operating well.

4. Provide your contact information for the location so you can be alerted when issues arise.

5. Always have a good attitude when you're at the locations filling your machine.

6. Give away free samples of new products! This can provide good-will and increase your sales.

7. Offer a suggestion box for product requests.

8. Ask the customers in your location what they want.

9. Replace products that move slowly or don't sell.

10. Learn ways to run your business efficiently.

11. Experiment with different ways to grow your business.
Custom Made Graduation Party Favors

Looking for Graduation Party Ideas? If you don’t have the time to make homemade party favors, this may be the answer for you.

Gumball.com has unique gumball jars and gumball party favors for your Graduation celebration. Customize your order by choosing from a wide range of label themes, picking a complimentary ribbon then gumball colors.

If you have any questions, give them a call at: 1-800-260-0010

Custom party favors made with gumballs

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