The first vending machine was invented as a result of British people being very, very upset at laws banning the wide-scale sale of gin in 1736.
In fact, one Willian Alexander
“….being too deeply affected at the approaching fate of his idol, and resolv’d not to see that unhappy day, took a rope, went upstairs, shut himself in, and hang’d himself up to a staple drove into a beam in his room”
He wasn’t the only one. Gin was so popular in 17th century Britain that it was personified as Madame, Mother or Queen Madam Geneva. People toasted her and funerals were held in her honor when the liberal gin laws were repealed.
One creative way of still getting your gin in was – invent the vending machine. The original vending machine, the Puss and Mew machine, was in the shape of a cat. Its tail was a pipe. If you wanted gin, you whispered “puss”. If the seller had gin to give, the cat would say “Mew”. When you put money into the mouth of the cat, some gin would come out of the tail. Okay, maybe it was more mechanical fakery than automation. There was a shady vendor behind the door. But it’s as close as the 17th century got to a vending machine.
Siobhan is a freelance writer, research addict and lover of twisted history. If you like horrible but amazing history, check out her website www.interesly.com or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/interesly. Or you can reach her through www.siobhanoshea.com.