A Vintage American 'Mouthy Marvin' Talking Gumball Machine


Origin: American
Period: Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1973
Width: 17 inches (at base)
Height: 46 inches (with antennae)
Depth: 15 inches (at base)

A loudly painted, robot inspired, talking bubblegum vending machine, manufactured by Northwestern co. of Morris, Illinois. in 1973. Northwestern was founded when Emersen Bolen invented the match vending machine in 1909, and went on to become enormously successful, inventing several iconic machines, including 'Mouthy Marvin', the first talking vending machine. He has four phrases: 'Does your mother know you're talking to a robot? I won't tell', 'Earthling I think I am lost, Take me to your leader', 'Say, don't I know you from someplace, how about Mars?', and 'Boy those big balls of gum sure stick in my throat', which he says each time he dispenses some bubblegum, after the quarter is inserted. 

While we have no reason to believe the machine doesn't work, it remains untested, and batteries for it are readily available. There are a few chips to the paint on the base, and the antennae needs to be screwed down tightly; otherwise in good original condition.  

Extraordinarily kitsch, Mouthy Marvin exemplifies early seventies American design, and excitement about machines and the future. The space race and advances in technology in the late sixties had triggered the American public's fascination with robots, the future, extra terrestrials, etc.; and, to coincide with the buzz, Northwestern invented Mouthy Marvin. Charmingly naïve, and of it's time, you could almost imagine Michael J. Fox swooping past on a hoverboard, slapping him to get the bubblegum out, then giving a flippant response to Mouthy Marvin's mouthy comment! We'll leave it to your imagination…