AMC’s ‘Mad Men’ Provides Snapshot Of Vending In The 1960s: Were They Really The ‘Good Old Days’?

The AMC TV show Mad Men reminds us how far weve come since the good old days of the early and mid 1960s. Last weeks episode offered historical perspective on the vending industry.The big news at the fictitious New York advertising agency is the arrival of a pull-knob candy vending machine. A male staffer loses his wristwatch reaching for a product in the chute, prompting him and a colleague to pick up the machine and shake it loose. Their feat draws the interest of several onlookers.The savvy ad agency staffers see the columnar vending machine, primitive compared to modern electronic glassfronts, as a novelty, a source of entertainment as they walk the office halls trying to charge their creative juices.Mad Men delights viewers drawing on historical details like this. Candy machines were fairly new in white collar environments in the 1960s.A few frames later in the show, a secretary informs an executive that there have been numerous complaints about the vending machine keeping peoples money. And the customer service number on the machine never gets answered. The secretary says the machine should go, but the executive says no; the sales have been great.He further adds that a sandwich machine should be installed since employees would spend more time in the office instead of going out for lunch.The secretary objects that sandwiches just around the corner will result in fatter females throughout the office. Psychological strategy is in play here. The secretary knows the thought of hordes of overweight females will dissuade the male executive from ordering a sandwich machine.The issue remains unresolved as the story switches to another drama in a day of the life of the fictitious ad agency.This episode reminds us there was a time when customers were so enthralled with the convenience of vending machines that they put up with dysfunctional machines and unresponsive vending operators.But should we be referring to those times as the good old days?

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