If you were a child of the 1960s, 70s or 80s, then you may well have received a miniature chocolate machine for Christmas, which was basically a Cadbury Dairy Milk miniatures dispenser and also a money box. It was a fun way to save money and earn a tasty chocolate treat at the same time!
For those of you who remember them, you may now be asking the question, can you still buy them? The short answer is no. Unfortunately, they are no longer available to buy brand new. However, the original vintage machines can be bought online from ebay.
As an alternative, you may like this Cadbury Dairy Milk Money Box
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Cadbury's no longer produce the miniature bars, so you will be unable to fill your dispenser with Dairy Milk. But there is a supplier called Treasure Island Sweets who sell milk chocolate mini bars that fit the machines. So if you already have a dispenser, or are planning to buy one second-hand, then bookmark this supplier, as they are very hard to find.
The official Cadbury Hornby dispenser had a vintage decor with a tiled roof and chimney and art deco styling. The original version in the 1970s required a 2p coin.
The Airfix AZ9994 machine was a re-launched version of the original 1970s dispenser, manufactured by Hornby in the 2010s, which took 10p coins. It was available at the Hornby shop for £7.99 and a few other British retailers such as Home Bargains, where it was on sale for just £5.99 in 2013. It was red and looked just like the original 1970s machine. There was also a brown, chocolate-coloured version, which is pretty rare.
This machine could hold 80 x Dairy Milk Miniatures, so was very useful for children trying to save their pocket money.
Although the product hasn't been available for a number of years, it's entirely possible that it may reappear at some stage, and we'll be keeping a close eye on the situation and updating this page should it become available one again.
As it stands, the machines are now mainly of interest to collectors, and the originals from the 1970s are selling for anywhere between £9 and £20, plus postage and packaging, as I write.
The first miniature chocolate dispenser machine was manufactured by the English company Peter Pan in the 1960s, a company founded in 1963, whose headquarters were at Peterborough in England. It was called Automatic Chocolate Machine, which took 1d coins and looked like a 1960s vending machine.
Later versions in the 1970s required a 1p coin (after decimalisation) and eventually a 2p coin (due to inflation) in the early 1980s. By then, the company had altered its name to Peter Pan Playthings.
The machine's main design remained largely unchanged, and had two coin slots and two rectangular clear windows which each displayed chocolate miniatures, which could be Cadbury's Dairy Milk Miniatures. This is the machine I had back in the 70s, and it was cheaper to buy than the official Cadbury machines. It was still being produced in 1982 and possibly beyond this date.
Peter Pan Playthings Ltd. also produced the British version of the classic Mr Potato Head toy. The company was acquired by Bluebird Toys in 1987, who themselves merged with Mattel in 1998 after a takeover.
Pictured is the 1982 version of the Peter Pan machine, which showed Cadbury Dairy Milk miniatures in the photo, despite not being an official Cadbury machine.
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