Vending machines, believe it or not, have almost always been around in some capacity. Hero of Alexandria in Greece made one in the first century A.D. He invented the outdoor machine that automatically dispensed water. Some do believe that Hero just took the credit for others’ invention of this machine, however.
How the machine worked is that five drachms were thrown into the mouth of the machine. The coins would land on the plate which would allow the lid to open. Water would them come out. As soon as the coins fell off, the lid would close. Unfortunately, however, there was no way to prevent freezing in this original vending machine.
Vending machines continued to become more and more popular throughout history. A surge of vending machines occurred in the nineteenth century when Stollwerck, a German chocolate maker, created a vending machine that would disperse his chocolates. In the early twentieth century, vending machines made for drinks became popular.
The first vending machines for drinks at this time simply dispensed water or drinking fountains rather than drinks that are bottled. These vending machines slowly became more and more banned across countries due to unsanitary reasons as everyone shared the same drinking container to get water.
In 1908, Lawrence Luellen, a lawyer in New England, developed a solution to these unsanitary vending machines by offering vending machines that dispense paper cups for a penny. This company grew to be the Dixie Cup Company. There were vending machines solely for these cups as well as machines for water and cups containing water jugs, ice containers, and garbage cans. Unfortunately, these early vending machines still had no ways to prevent freezing.
In modern times, most vending machines have continued to be placed outdoors. Most people assume that drinks do not freeze in cold temperatures in these vending machines due to heating mechanisms. This is simply not the case in most instances, however.
The way that drinks do not freeze in vending machines through most cases is through the use of the internal evaporator fan. The functioning of this fan gives off a very small amount of heat to stop drinks from freezing.
Vending machines are also sealed tight and insulated. Modern vending machines even have cooling mechanisms to bring the beverages to a point right above freezing at night, then allowing the insulation to keep all temperatures secure. This not only prevents freezing but also helps with companies’ energy costs. Sodas and sugary drinks have lower freezing points than water as well.
As mentioned, in some areas, heating mechanisms are required. This is in a region that gets exceptionally cold. The simplest heating mechanism is simply using a 40 or 60-watt lightbulb that turns on when temperatures go below a certain level. Other methods involve utilizing heat pumps. Usually, however, the lower freezing points and insulation made available in the vending machine are usually sufficient. If not, you can consider the light bulb method, and if this does not work, move on to the heat pump method.