Sanden Vendo America - History

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The Vendo Company created the first vending system called “The Red Top.”
The beverage-vending machine, so universally recognized today, traces its roots back to the 1930’s. The first machines were not coin-operated, but simple coolers packed with ice and bottles of soda that operated on the honor system. That didn't necessarily denote a more honest time, but rather a lack of needed technology. When the first coin-operated machines appeared, they worked poorly, jamming frequently and accepting almost any kind of slug. Brothers Elmer F. and John T. Pierson changed all that. The Piersons purchased a patent for a simple, inexpensive and reliable vending lid. This lid could be locked on top of the Westinghouse and Frigidaire chest coolers already present in service stations and grocery stores, thereby converting them into vending machines. With $3,000 in start-up capital, the brothers started The Vendo Company in 1937 in Kansas City, Missouri. Joined by J.E. Hagstrom and his company, they developed the first truly workable vending system, a lid called "The Red Top." The lid moved the delivery opening to the next bottle in the chest, rather than moving bottles through the ice. This innovation eliminated the jamming problem and made the machine simple and practical. “The Red Top” was not only responsible for creating a major market almost overnight, it also changed the world of beverage retailing forever.

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