Vending machines made to dispense canned soda became more popular once the ring pull-tab for easy opening was patented in 1963. Prior to that development, canned beverages had to be opened with a “church key” opener.
Vending machines date to ancient times, with the earliest models dispensing holy water. In the Twentieth Century that idea eventually lead to a machine that could dispense soda into cups for five cents. Major soda brand manufacturers were responsible for the appearance of bottle dispensing machines by 1946- all a business or work place needed was an electrical outlet to offer up ice cold Pepsi or Coke.
Known as 7-UP since 1936, Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda was introduced in 1929 by Charles L. Grigg and promoted as a healthy drink. Even after lithium was removed as an ingredient, the clear soda was promoted as wholesome and nutritional with the slogan, “You like it, It likes you.”
The machine pictured above was manufactured at the Selectivend plant once located in Kansas City, KS. Model 1B offered 4 brands of soda; the dispensing racks hold 29 cans of each flavor, for a total of 116 cans. It even has a handy slot to place the pull-tabs once used to open the can. The coin mechanism has been modified over the years, so it now costs 75 cents for a can of soda.
The slogan “7 UP …Your Thirst Away” dates between 1963-1965, when the machine was located at Don’s Pharmacy, 4128 St. John Ave. Later, it was purchased by Tony Abbott and now operates in the office of Abbott’s Properties at 5020 St. John Ave.
Don’s Pharmacy closed in 2002, but you can still see and use the old vending machine, just a few blocks down the road.