Commercially available gum was invented in the 1850s but it would take over 50 more years to come up with the gumball. According to legend an anonymous grocer in New York was unhappy that the gum, in a flat form, was not selling. He wadded up a piece, though it across the store and it fell into a barrel of sugar. When the grocer picked it up he noticed its newly acquired glistening appearance. The gumball was born.
My grandfather has always loved gumballs, and one year for Christmas he was given an old-fashioned gumball machine that took pennies. Every time I visited them the gumball machine was full, and there was a dish of pennies next to it. Grandpa would ask me to get him a few, and I’d rush to the machine and put a penny in, to get a few gumballs for the both of us.
His favorite was always the white ones, which are mint, and mine was yellow, which I’m almost sure are banana. We’d chew them together, and he even taught me how to blow bubbles with them. Grandma and Grandpa live in an RV now, and the gumball machine has long been packed up and stored away. But I can’t go to a grocery store or candy store without seeing these familiar globes and thinking about afternoons with my grandfather, learning how to blow bubbles, and splitting up the flavors between us. ~ Jessie from Michigan
When we were little, we didn't have very much money to spend on candy. It was a special treat to be able to go to the downtown drugstore and an even bigger treat to get a coke or a coke float! But the thing I remember most and will never forget is the huge red metal gumball machine at the entrance to the drugstore. Many times it would "malfunction" and you could get 10 or more pieces of gum to come out with just a penny! It was like hitting the jackpot for us kids! All of the neighborhood kids would see me coming with my pennies I'd saved up and would sit on the wooden floor waiting for those bubblegum balls to come flying out. I seemed to have that special knack! Such fun! Nowadays, I still enjoy putting in a quarter just for memory's sake. It's worth it! Who knows? Someday I may hit the jackpot again! ~Sandi from Virginia