Gum machine dispensed 1 stick at a time

This Zeno Gum machine circa 1890, hung in the East End Grocery, which was located in the 400 block of Broad Street in Montoursville from 1880-1930.

A Zeno Gum machine, circa 1890, was in the East End Grocery that was in the 400 block of Broad Street in Montoursville from 1880 to 1930.

The machine was donated in 2015 to the Gen. John Burrows Historical Society at 19 N. Loyalsock Ave. in the borough by Christina Casselberry Hayes, a relative of the owners of the grocery.

The oak-housed machine measures about 16 inches tall. According to the Western Illinois Museum, which is also home to one of the gum machines, a customer would insert a penny into a slot, which would drop down inside into a chute, activating the interior clockwork motor that would then gently push out a stick of gum and deposit it on a little metal shelf.

The back door of the cabinet opens to reveal the interior clockwork mechanism that dispensed sticks of gum one at a time. The operator would load the sticks of gum into the machine and then use a big key to wind up the motor. Every time gum was loaded, the motor had to be wound up.

The machine at the local society is in working condition after being restored by volunteer Ray Harmon. It is a popular item among those attending the school-age tours that he leads.

The Chicago gum manufacturer, Zeno, went on to partner with another famous name in gum — William Wrigley Jr.


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