If you’re like most people (read: almost nobody), it’s hard to go through a day without thinking, “I need a joke from Henny Youngman”. In the early 1970s, Ussery Industries of Dallas, Texas decided to capitalize on the national drive for vaudeville humor by creating a joke vending machine.
Henny Youngman was tapped for the task. They paid him to record 230 of his jokes and incorporated them into a newly designed vending machine. The machine was loaded with candy bars, and for the customer’s dime they received not only a candy bar, but the comedian’s voice telling them one of the hundreds of jokes from his performance library.
Henny Youngman earned his fame. He had an impeccable delivery and a catalogue of jokes always ready. He wrote successful books and records and was a favorite guest on television shows. Some people loved hearing him so much that when Dial-A-Joke was introduced a few years later, his was among the most successful telephone lines.
Getting a one-liner with your Hershey bar, however? Not a beloved concept; certainly not enough to warrant the extra cost of production and the maintenance required to keep the recordings playing properly. Prototypes were made and placed for market testing… where they were promptly ignored or actively rebuffed.
The joke vending machine died a quick death, but remains a rare non-Japanese entry in the history of bizarre vending machines.
Question of the night: What’s your favorite joke, line or bit from an old-school comic?