Station: [2] Cigarette Machine

Wearing an original historical costume and carrying a vendor’s tray, the hostess offers Reval brand cigarettes. A convincing brand image and sophisticated advertising have always been significant features of the cigarette industry. Retailers also came up with some clever ways of ensuring customers never had to do without their “ciggies”. Cigarette vending machines in the street, accessible around the clock, guaranteed the product’s permanent availability. Take a look at the examples on the wall to your right to get an idea of how cigarette vending machines developed during the last century. While the 1970s model gives the customer a choice of no fewer than seven brands, the older machines often only provided one or two brands to choose from. Unthinkable for today’s consumers!

The two wooden machines in the centre of the wall supplemented the smoking vice by adding a gambling addiction. These machines were found in pubs, and with a little luck, the pub-goer could win his cigarettes. The machine on the left is not unlike a pinball machine. You inserted a coin, and a little ball appeared. Then you pressed the lever at the bottom to send the ball whizzing around the spiral. Depending on the slot in which it landed, the customer was rewarded with one cigarette or even several. Or none, if the player was unlucky. The small machine to the right wasn’t mass-produced. A local tradesman had taken the basic principle, and built a simpler version. In this case, the machine doesn’t issue the cigarettes directly. Instead, a light indicates what the player has won. The cigarettes were dispensed at the bar by the landlord.

All depictions: © Oberrheinisches Tabakmuseum Mahlberg