Which is it? Coke machine, pop machine,
soda machine, cola machine, soda pop machine, soft drink machine? The Pop
Vs Soda page tells us that it depends on your regional dialect. As I am from
a mixed dialect state, I'll be using these terms interchangably below.
The Modern Pop Machine FAQ v0.1
(For Use Inside the Home)
In this FAQ, we're defining a modern soft drink vending machine as a machine
that has its drinks vertically stacked into trays. When vended, the drinks fall
out the tray and into a shute below. This time-tested vending mechanism was
introduced around 1970 and is still used in machines produced today. This faq is
aimed at the user who wants to own and operate a modern coke machine in their
What if I'm looking for old-time soda machine information?
I haven't seen a good FAQ for this. But a good starting point would be the Coke
Links at BrentRadio.com. All aspects of these vintage machines are likely to
be significantly different from anything you will read here.
LEGAL: NO WARRANTY EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED. SHOULD THIS DOCUMENT PROVE FAULTY,
INNACURATE, INCOMPLETE, OR OTHERWISE UNACCEPTABLE, THE ENTIRE RISK OF USE IS
Not made for home use. Although this FAQ is aimed
at home users, it should be clear that pop machines are not designed for home
use. They are heavy duty machines that are designed to be serviced by trained
technicians. Inside, there are potentially dangerous mechanical parts, high
pressure lines, and exposed electrical connections. Pop machines are also very
heavy, often weighing 400-1000 pounds, making them dangerous to move, or tip
over. They can even be dangerous just sitting in place if your floor isn't
strong enough to handle so much weight in a small spot! If all of this sounds
like something that isn't for you, you might look at the SkyBox
by Maytag. It may not be as cool, it will not have as much capacity or
selection, and it can cost as much as a used coke machine. But it is made
for home use. You can even stock it with beer and use the built-in lockout
mechanism to keep children from getting at it.
You still want your own coke vending machine? Okay. Here is some information for
What are the choices in pop machines? There are
some basic distinctions in the various models of pop machines. The number of
selections (different drink choices it will hold that you can select from), the
number of cans it can store, and if it will vend PET (plastic) bottles of
various sizes or just the standard 12oz cans. Figure out what drinks you'd like
in your vending machine and how often you think you'll be using it. Also figure
out the cost of stocking it with those drinks. Most people stick with cans and
with the major brands. But the nice thing about having your own soft drink
machine is that you can stock it with whatever you want. (The hard part might be
finding the correct label to put in your button for Diet Shasta Black Cherry!)
Other things you might care about are the general presence and appearance (for
example, the graphics on the front). Do you hardly care what it looks like? Or
must it have a certain appearance? Or certain graphics on the front? Are you a
die-hard Coca-Cola fan? Mountain Dew? Perhaps you love those front panels for
Seven-Up that are shaped like the number 7. But if you really don't care, you
can probably get a machine with simulated wood trim and "COLD DRINKS"
across the front for a little bit cheaper.
There is also the manufacturer, weight, and production year (for example, you
might want an 80s machine to go along with your classic video games, or you
might want a newer machine). Being for home use, you're likely not to care if it
is able to vend bills, or if it has a high security door. Size and weight tend
to work against you, but the bigger machines will hold more drinks at a time.
Do not underestimate how much size and weight will affect you. If it is too big,
you simply won't be able to get it through some of your doors. And any steps up
to and inside your home greatly increase the difficulty of moving the machine.
If you are moving a machine any distance, you'll want to use a refrigerator
dolly (like a normal dolly, but is bigger and has at least one strap that goes
all the way around the machine to hold it in place). Any time you try to move a
soda machine without a dolly (by sliding it or walking it), you risk damage to
just about any floor (concrete slab will be injured to a lesser extent). So
where you want to put your pop machine is going to have a big influence on what
type of machine you're going to get. And if you care about your wood floors,
don't even think of placing a coke machine on top of it.
Size and weight too much for you? You might consider the Coinco CT-48. It is
small and can be wall or table mounted. I personally find them more attractive
if they have they the graphics replaced with a major brand's logo. I have seen
them with a standard plastic window with Pepsi graphics. I have also seen them
with a vintage Coca-Cola logo painted onto the front panel. They don't quite
vend like a standard machine with a vertically stacked tray, but they're
otherwise close enough to be included in this document.
Is there a grading or rating system for vending machines?
A few places will use them, but they aren't universal, and the meanings of a
rating can vary from one place to the next. And not everyone uses them or even
knows what you are talking about. (So don't go walking into a place and ask for
a "B" grade machine.) Don't pin someone down and insist they use a
letter. Just understand what they are offering for the price.
Typically, an "A" machine will be totally reconditioned on the inside
and have new paint, decals, and logos. It'll look just about brand new. The more
common grade (B or C, depending on whatever arbitrary scale they're using) is a
tested working machine, but with a kind of worn appearance that is typical with
being out in the real world. There might be some slight maintenance (oiling,
etc) done. There are other places will label a "C" machine as having a
compressor that cools well, but otherwise has not been checked, cleaned, or
Where do I find one? Soda machines might be
everywhere, but you'll have to do a little work to find one for yourself. There
are a number of ways that you can find a machine for yourself. You can buy one
online, but your greatest problem is going to be transportation. (Crating and
shipping for 600lbs is not cheap!) You might try eBay. Here is a search you can
use to find some soft
drink vending machines near you. What you'll find on eBay changes over time,
and the number of items you'll find (and the prices) will depend on your area.
You should also try local swap/trading magazines.
Most local vending companies will probably not want to deal with you. You are
more trouble to them than you are worth. They don't want to sell a machine and
have to hand-hold someone through all their problems. They make their living
maintaining and stocking machines, not selling them. But shops that sell game
room equipment (pinball machines, arcade games, pool tables, etc) to the public
will be willing to work with you.
A word on dealing with gameroom retailers (even if they call themselves
distributors or wholesalers or dealers). They're almost always going to have
some selection of machines to chose from, and chances are, the very same
machines will be there next week. Their usual retail customer has limited
knowledge on what they're wanting to buy and are very very eager and have the
money to spend. (What does that tell you?) Prices could be
reasonable. They could be insane. Be careful. Also know what you're getting for
the price. The machine has a few bumps and scratches, works, and is sold as-is?
(This would be a common sale in the world of coin-operated merchandise.) Or do
they offer extras? Totally refurbished and repainted? A warranty? And if so,
what is covered, and where is it covered (will they work on it in your
home or pick it up inside your home for free)? These are extras that you might
find with a game room dealer, or a rare vendor who sells to the public.
If your primary goal is to get a good machine at a nice price, then you're going
to have to do three things. First, be patient. Regularly watch local eBay
listings as well as your local classified ads (in your newspaper, or once again,
your local swap/trading papers). Second, know what you're looking for and in
what condition you'll accept (cosmetically and electromechanically). Most people
shoot for a working machine with a major brand name logo (Coke, Pepsi) that is
in an average out-in-the-real-world cosmetic condition. Third, learn more about
pop vending machines. The more you know about them, the less likely you're going
to overlook something important. If you have to have your machine now, or
you don't care to learn much about them before buying, that's fine. But expect
to pay more. You might want to look at our FAQ on how
to buy arcade games. There are some significant differences, but you're
going to pick up some good tips there.
One of the strategies I'd recommend is reading up on the subject and learning a
bit about it on your own. Then, visit the local gameroom dealer (without
children, please). Pump those guys for information and learn anything more that
you can. Have them show you the different choices in machines and how much they
cost. Tell them you're a bit uneasy about loading the pop in and ask them if
they could open the machine and show you. If you see the most amazing deal (not
very likely to happen) take it on the spot. But I'd recommend waiting, even if
you see good things. If you've asked some good questions, you'll have some idea
of what they offer on what terms, with what support at what price. Go home and
start looking on your own. This will give you time to mull over what they have
to offer. If you get totally frustrated looking for a game on your own, or after
you look around for a bit, you decide that the retailer's offer was actually a
good one (perhaps after you add in any services they might include with the
machine), you can always go back to them. And yes, I am not a big fan of some
retailers (the used car salesmen type), but there are also some great guys out
there to do business with.
Is it legal to have a pop machine in your home? I
cannot give you legal advice, and I should tell you that if you have legal
questions, you'll need to consult with a lawyer to determine any special local
regulations which may apply to you. However, for the vast majority of people,
the answer is yes. It is perfectly legal.
The only controversy that collectors of coin-operated devices have seen over the
years is the allegation of running a business by purchasing and selling machines
in some numbers. For example, buying some machines in bulk, fixing up and
selling a few, and using the money to buy more and different machines. But by
pointing out that they collect these machines and just like stamp or card
collectors, and part of that includes buying and selling, (and perhaps due to
the interest generated by the local media) they had a quick and favorable
Placing the machine outside and charging people to use it, however, is a
different story. In many areas, if you vend drinks, even for less than cost, you
are not free to place it out on your front porch for anyone to use. Most areas
have regulations dealing with vending machines, and many require a special tax
be paid and a new sticker applied to the machine every year. (And even then,
zoning requirements may come into play.) You'll likely avoid those problems if
you keep your soda machine inside or on the back patio.
The section below is for questions and issues with what you should do with your
machine when you first get it.
You may have to wait 24 hours. If your pop machine
was shipped laying down (for example, flat on its back in the bed of a truck),
this causes oil to migrate out of the compressor. You may be eager to turn the
machine on right away, but resist the temptation. You need to allow the oil to
return to the compressor. NMCFARLING
tells us that a 24 hour wait gives time for any air bubble to burst that may be
blocking the oil return. This advice isn't particular to coke machines; it
applies to anything that has a compressor.
Where do I get my hands on a refrigerator dolly to move
the machine into and around my house? I used to rent a refrigerator dolly
(aka "appliance dolly") from moving places like U-Haul. The main
problem I ran into is that they often did not have a spare dolly on hand, or
that they only wanted to rent them with trucks. What I've discovered since then
is that the major home improvement stores will often rent equipment, they have a
large number of appliance dollies on hand, and they were actually a bit cheaper.
Home Depot is just down the street from me, and just under 24 hours with an
appliance dolly cost me $14 including tax and "insurance".
Another tip relating to moving pop machines with an appliance dolly. An ideal
dolly is one of those with four wheels (and the two nearest the top are
retractable) and doesn't require heavy lifting and delicate balancing at the
same time. It seems that nobody rents those, but if you do happen to get
your hands on one, you're doing well. But even with one of those magical
machines, you're likely to need a few people to help you. Big, strong, heavy
people. Maybe even people who like to work for beer. People complain about
moving arcade games, and they're nowhere near as difficult as these steel boxes.
Yes. You have to be very very careful. If it accidently falls over, it can
seriously injure or kill a person.
How do I open the machine? If you have this
question, you may have missed the opportunity to ask questions from the person
who previously operated the machine. On the front panel of the machine, on the
far right and towards the center should be a silvery metal bar with a barrel
lock in the middle. You use your key to unlock the barrel lock (typically
requires only a 90 degree turn). At that point, the T-handle should pop out. (If
it doesn't, you'll need to jiggle it around and free it up. Use some WD-40 on it
while you're at it.) Remove the key from the lock. The handle, once released,
works like a bolt which holds the front door to the rest of the machine. Unscrew
the bolt by turning the T-handle counterclockwise until the door is finally free
and will pull open.
What do I do if I wasn't given the key? If someone
has a better answer to this, it would be appreciated. In my experience with
arcade games, we would take a 1" drill bit and drill out the barrel lock in
the center. Of course, if you do that, you'll need to have replacement parts or
you likely won't be able to keep the front door closed. [Hint: Your local
gameroom retailer is likely to carry such parts, if you can't find any place
else locally. And there is always the Internet... but nobody who just got their
pop machine wants to wait.] NMCFARLING
says that'll work... if you want to buy a new lock AND a new handle to go with
it. Here's how he does it:
"Center punch the 3/8 inch round part in the center
of the cylinder. Try to be as close to the center of this as possible. Start
with a nice sharp 3/16 inch drill bit and drill straight and true into the lock.
Your accuracy has everything to do with this working. The material will be brass
or a soft steel so it is not terribly hard to drill. After the drill has gone to
a depth of about 1 and 1/4 inches the lock will pop open if you catch the latch
bar. This bar is hardened steel and as soon as the bit catches it, it will turn
and pull the lock bit down, allowing the spring loaded T Handle to release.
Just because this didn't work doesn't mean you screwed up. Far from it. Remember
this is machinery and sometimes we just have to convince it that we are the
boss. Next step, if you are so equipped, is to thread a 2 inch long 1/4 inch
self threading bolt into the drilled opening and use your slide hammer to
attempt to pop the latch off the cylinder. This will usually work on older, well
used locks. A newer one forget it and go right to step three.
If the lock did not open for some reason, and you do not have a slide hammer,
the next step is to drill the lock with a succession of larger bits. You still
may catch the latch if you were a little off center, or will eventually get to
the point where the pins in the cylinder are destroyed and the lock will open by
inserting a screwdriver and turning it.
Do not beat yourself up if you fail in this endeavor. Most locks will open with
less that five minutes work. I open five to twenty-five locks a month with these
procedures, so they are proven and sound." He then goes on to detail
his personal horror story of that one particular lock that didn't want to open.
How do I put the drinks in the trays? Slow down,
Tex! You've got some other things to decide and things you need to do (below)
before you put drinks in the trays. This prep work is important and will save
you the trouble of having to take all your drinks back out (or having some of
them explode on you). But if you're at the point of putting the cans in, then
Always, if there are instructions inside the machine, you'll probably want to
refer to those first. [I will insert more information here with some pictures. I
think this is difficult to explain without the pictures.]
Can I put Coca-Cola products in a Pepsi machine?
Yes. There is no soda police. (Why do I see this being turned into a
commercial?) You can put just about anything you want in there as long as it
will vend it correctly. The machines may have Pepsi's logo on it, but they don't
own or control the machine. Another example would be from the world of arcade
games. You could have a Centipede game in your basement. But it doesn't mean
that Atari owns it, or that you can't replace the game inside the machine with
something else. You really do own the machine.
How do I know which tray goes to what button? You
may not have realized this, but the order of the trays does not necessarily
match the order of the buttons. Look and see on the inside if there are stickers
with numbers next to the buttons and those same numbers next to the trays. If
they are there, that'll help you make sure you load the correct tray with the
correct drink. If not, you are going to have to experiment to figure this out.
The easiest way (assuming your vending trays are currently empty) is to hold
down the "sold out switch", which is a paddle inside the tray which
tells the machine if it is out of drinks. See which "sold out" light
goes out on which button. You may want to make your labels inside the machine
right now so you'll have something to refer to later.
There are just a few pops left in the tray, but it says it
is out and it won't vend them! In the world of computer science, we say
that's not a bug, its a feature! What happens is that a machine will run out of
pop, and eventually the vending machine guy will come around to fill the machine
back up. But all the pop he carries with him is warm! So, after he leaves, the
machine will give out the pops he just put in, people will have lukewarm drinks,
and those customers will be very unhappy. To solve this problem, once the number
of pops reaches a certain level (say, four or so) which is detected by a paddle
connected to a "sold out switch", it says that it is out of the
selection. Yes, pop machines lie to you! But with good reason.
Nobody wants a warm pop. And it is easier to control the temperature in the
machine than to control the temperature of all the pops being carted around
town. (That, and since the location where the pop machine is placed will pay for
the electricity to refrigerate the inside the machine, it actually saves vending
companies money! They don't need refrigerated trucks to make deliveries.)
Yet another reason why the machine keeps a few drinks in the bottom of the tray
is so that the vendor won't have to waste time priming the vending mechanism
with new cans. For maintenance, you can temporarily override this
"feature" by holding down the drink sensing paddle (making it think
there are more cans in there) and it'll allow you to vend out those last few
I've loaded the tray, but it won't vend any drinks. This
could be caused by a number of things. First, you'll want to put in the exact
change for a drink. When you do this, you should see/hear the relay (which
allows for a selection to be made) has activated. If that never happens, you've
either got a problem with your coin mechanism, or your relay.
If it returns your coins as you put them in, it could be a number of things. Are
ALL of the drinks sold out? If so, it may not accept your money. If the
"exact change" light is lit, and the price of a can is set to
something low, like a nickel, then it won't accept it if you put in a quarter.
Another reason it could return your coin is that correct change was already put
in the machine, and it won't accept any more. Or finally, it could be modified
in an unusual way for constant free vending, so all coins are always returned.
If the relay activates, and nothing happens when you make a drink selection, it
could be a different set of problems. First, the switch connected to the button
could be faulty. Or, it could believe that there isn't any of that selection
left to vend. (Is the "sold out" light lit?) Try a different
selection, and troubleshoot from there.
Finally, if you push the button and it seems to accept it but nothing gets
delivered (and you can't make another selection afterwards), then you've got an
issue with the vending mechanism. You'll need to see if the motor is turning
below, or if the cans were put in properly, or what the issue is. Note that when
you first load a machine, you'll want to try to vend a few drinks from each
selection in order to get the vending mechanism properly loaded. The first few
vends may result in no drinks coming out, so you'll want to make sure it has
The instructions above make reference to the Sold Out light and the Exact Change
Only light. Of course, when troubleshooting, be aware that these lights could
potentially be burnt out.
Do I need to load some coins in to make change? For
home use, if you are going to allow you machine to take coins, probably the best
recommendation is to take 25 or 50 cents for a drink. That way you won't have to
worry about gathering up nickels and dimes to put in the machine. (The details
on how to change the price of a can are given later in this document.)
Otherwise, you can load up the coin changer from the outside by paying for a few
drinks with nickles and dimes. Or, you can open up the machine and put the coins
directly into each slot (quarter, dime, nickel) of the changer.
Why is it making a constant and evenly timed ca-chink,
ca-chink kind of mechanical clicking noise? That sounds like your coin
changer is trying to empty out all of the coins it has stored inside it. Look
and see if there are any slide switches on the coin changer. Those are used to
empty the mechanism. Flip the large switch or switches all to one side (then try
the other side) to see if that fixes it. Do not touch any of the DIP (very
Normally, as people would put money in the machine, it would store some of the
coins inside of the coin changer. When it is satisfied that it has enough coins,
it would drop any additional coins that it receives into a metal bucket below.
Those switches are used to empty out the coin changers. Be sure you have your
hand below the coin mechanism when you use them!
How should I set the temperature for the refrigerator?
Somewhere inside the machine, you're going to see a round knob with some numbers
on it. Hard to say where it is on every machine, but it is more likely to be
inside the main body of the machine (not on the outer doors). On mine, it is a
black knob with white numbers, on the right side, towards the bottom and just
under where the cans sit. It works just like a temperature control in a
refrigerator would. But be CAREFUL! You can use it to bring the drinks below
freezing. At approximately 28F, cans of pop will rupture. And some diet drinks
will rupture at only 30F.
If you're loading your machine for the first time, error on the side of caution
and have it be too warm! Then slowly adjust it down over time and keep a
thermometer at the coldest place inside the unit. Otherwise, you risk waking up
the next morning to a slushy mess all inside the machine and on the floor. Yes,
you could assume that the current setting when you got it is correct, and it
likely to be somewhere near where it should be, but you do so at your own risk.
On my Dixie-Narco 240, a setting of 3 is right at the freezing mark. The coldest
setting is 9. So don't assume that 5 is average!
NMCFARLING adds: "Not
all of the machines have temperature controls with numbers. DNC [Dixie-Narco]
does, Vendo does not. Vendo is simply an arrow with a screwdriver slot in the
middle, and the control is hidden under the can chute on the left side."
The newer vending machines will likely keep the temperature of the soft drinks
within just a few degrees. (They even display them on the front panel, so you
might just be able to set the temperature electronically.) The range will be
somewhat wider for older models. When measuring the temperature, it is important
to do it at its coldest point. That will be right when the compressor turns off.
Ideally, you'll want to measure your temperatures at that time so you can catch
it at the peak cooling temperature. The whole process of getting the best
temperature, as you can probably tell, takes some time.
This also brings up an important point. Owning a pop machine usually isn't an
instant gratification kind of thing. You have to put some planning and some work
into it to get the best results. (Of course, if you have the money, and you can
find a high-end retailer, they could potentially handle all those details for
you.) For the rest of us, you can't just plug it in and expect everything to be
ready to dish out cans. You'll see more of this in some of the other items
below. I'm not a shill for Maytag, but I have to point out that you don't have
this and some other problems with their Skybox, because it is made for consumers
(and therefore, protects users against themselves). But as a result, one
disadvantage of the Skybox is that the temperature control in these units won't
get pop as nearly as cold as a real cola vending machine (because they're
designed to totally avoid the possibility of drinks exploding).
Any special plug-in or outlet required? Required?
No. Highly preferred? Yes. For your protection, you should plug the machine into
a GFCI outlet. Should water leak from the refrigeration unit, or it have some
sort of wiring malfunction, a GFCI outlet could save your life. Other than that,
your pop machine typically doesn't draw enough amps to require a special outlet
or dedicated circuit. The plug to a soft drink vending machine should have three
plugs (two plus a ground). If the ground is missing, you're risking quite a bit
by plugging it in. If you have the know-how, replace the cord or install a
grounding wire. Otherwise, an electrician can typically perform this service for
you for something close to the cost of a basic service call.
Any strategy for what buttons should go with which drink?
Generally, you'll want your most popular drink selections to be on the top few
buttons, with the less popular choices on the bottom buttons. This also goes
along with how the trays are arranged inside many machines. For example, you may
have a machine where trays #1-3 (numbered after the top button selections) are
double width trays Those will hold twice as many pops as the standard trays
#4-6, which are connected to the lowest buttons on a 6 selection machine. Out in
the real world, you'd put Pepsi in the #1 button, and the (fictional) Diet
Caffeine Free Cherry Crystal Pepsi in the #6 button. In your own home, you'd put
whatever drinks you'd go through the quickest on the #1 slot, and then your
least favorites (or perhaps drinks for occasional guests) on the lowest slots.
What do you do if you have 10 selection buttons, but you
only have 8 or so different drinks to vend? If you have settled on eight
different selections, and you know you're not going to add some new ones, the
best thing to do is to fill the extra two slots with more of the drinks that you
like most. So if the first button of Coke runs out, you can use the second
button of Coke until you get around to refilling the first tray.
The other option (if you don't want to go out and buy hundreds of cans) is to
put a label inside the button for a less popular (or even unpopular) drink,
leave the tray empty, and have the Selection Out light turn on for that button.
Looks good enough to leave, and if you want to add another drink selection
later, you're in a position to easily change it. Of course, you could just buy a
six or twelve pack of those horrid drinks and put them in there. You never
know... someone may actually like them! And with so few of those drinks in a
tray, it'll be easy to take them out and replace them with something else later.
Where do I get the labels for my buttons? You can
get them directly from the source, "NBS" National Beverage Screen
Printers. Call 1-800-325-9021. You can order labels right over the phone,
although my experience with them is that they are rather impatient with
questions. You have to order in packs of 25 of 1 label, 1 size, for $6 each plus
shipping. They accept Visa or Mastercard. They also have a website at www.nbsinc.net.
It doesn't make much sense for the average person to buy through them, though,
because of the quantities required. But you can always use them as a last
There is also a secondary market for these. There are various websites that have
them for sale. You'll see them on eBay, too. And don't forget your local
gameroom dealer. There is also a guy on eBay who sells CDROMs
with flavor label images, ready to print. Yes, the industry calls these
things "flavor labels". NMCFARLING
offers to sell 8 small major brand selection strips and a price sticker,
including postage, for about $6. You'll have to ask about other sizes.
UPDATE: I took a trip to my local Pepsi-Cola bottling company. They willingly
provided flavor labels just for the asking, and no charge. (This is not a
promise that they'll always be free, but I think it is likely.) They said that
they thought it would be fine for people to go to their local bottling company
for labels. But mine only had the new smaller labels, not the bigger ones used
in older machines. (You could potenitally put those on a color copier and resize
them, or you could put them on a larger white card for backing.)
Anything special I need to know if I order them?
Before 1990 or so, they were all different sizes (so be careful that you get the
right size). Remember that it is better to get a label that is slightly too big
(and to have to trim it down a little) than to get one that is too small. But if
you work with a label that is way too big, its going to look funny when you trim
After 1990, they standardized on all buttons being 3 9/32" wide and 1
5/8" tall. (This is the "small size" version.) This was the
standard, at least until recently. The new High Visibility machines now being
produced have extra large drink selection buttons. So much for standards.
For some reason, if a label is 4 inches wide and 2 inches tall, they'll actually
refer to it as a 2" x 4" format. They reverse the numbers so where the
height is first then the width it second. Don't know why. But keep that in mind
when you are purchasing labels.
I can make my own flavor labels? Absolutely.
Ideally, you'd want to print them on something transparent, like what would be
used for an overhead projector. If you're wanting something quick and easy, you
could cut the cardboard logo out of a twelve pack (assuming the logo printed on
it is small enough to fit). The disadvantage to using the cardboard is that
you'll have to cut a hole for the Sold Out light, and it will be difficult to
see in the dark (no backlighting).
When you create or cut your own label, you'll want to be able to pull it out
again! Be sure to make one side (the side you'll be inserting the label from)
have some extra space sticking out so you'll have something to grab onto.
That'll save you the tedious work later of digging and digging into a button to
get the label out. (For real flavor labels, NMCFARLING
says you should put a little "tail" on it with scotch tape before
inserting it into the slot.)
If you have your coke machine outside, be aware that unless you used some
special fade resistant ink, home made labels (or even labels cut from boxes) may
fade over time if exposed to sunlight.
If you need something even more quick and dirty, write or print the name of the
drink "SPRITE" on a piece of paper and stick it in there. It looks
tacky, but it beats having a blank see-through button or (worse), a completely
different drink on the button and having to explain to everyone, "It says
it is Mountain Dew, but it really gives out Sprite." You'll get tired of
saying it, and you'll look stupid every time.