Bulk vending is the sale of unsorted confections, nuts, gumballs, toys and novelties (in capsules) selected at random and dispensed generally through non-electrically operated vending machines. Bulk vending is a separate segment of the vending industry from full line vending — i.e., the snack and soda vending industries — and involves different products and strategies.
Bulk vending represents less than 1% of the total vending industry. Operation of bulk vending equipment is usually fairly straightforward for the consumer, involving placing the appropriate coin or coins in the machine and turning a knob or pulling a lever. If candy in a machine is low, however, and it appears unevenly distributed, the customer may wish to rock or whack the machine in order to knock some candy into the candy wheel, which is located in the bottom of the canister in the center.
Depending on the design of the machine, though – which usually involves a wheel making a one-third turn with every vend – it may already be too late to ensure that the next vend bears fruit. A distinguishing feature of bulk vending is that the items are dispensed at random, so it is usually impossible to choose which item comes out of the machine next. A child trying to get a complete set of baseball cards, for instance, may end up with several duplicates; hence, the introduction of “trading cards” and similarly themed products, with the idea that consumers will trade the duplicates with one another.