OCEANSIDE, NY -- ParSal Vending Co. has launched the next phase of its campaign to return the animated vending machine to its former prominence. Buoyed by the industry's enthusiastic response to its original All American Chicken vending machine, the company has introduced a larger, higher-capacity model and appointed Shaffer Distributing (Columbus, OH) as exclusive master distributor of the expanded line. The giant chicken machine retains the versatile sports theme of the original.
ParSal founder Frank Parisi, who unveiled the first new-age animated capsule vender three years ago, explained that the new model can dispense 4" eggs or other capsules, as well as the 2" size. He reported that Shaffer Distributing is working with A&A Global Industries (Cockeysville, MD) to develop capsule products for both the original vender and the new Giant Chicken Machine.
SIZE MATTERS: "Giant" version of ParSal's popular All American Chicken vending machine (at right) stands 6 feet tall for increased visibility and higher capacity in heavily trafficked malls and family entertainment centers. Like its predecessors, it's extensively customizable. Specs for the Giant Chicken Machine are: 70" H. x 29.5" W. x 28" D., 271 lbs.
In particular, A&A is planning themed mixes such as a National Football League variety for the football season, a National Basketball Association assortment for the basketball season, and similar celebrations of sport, as well as holiday and other seasonal mixes. He recalled that A&A had produced for Walmart 4" egg capsules, a good match for the giant chicken, and large enough to hold product that can vend for $5 and $10.
Capsuled merchandise of this size is becoming more popular, Parisi added, noting that Ford Gum & Machine (Akron, NY) turns out a 4" egg containing its Big League Chew for retail. Cardinal Distributing Co. (Baltimore) also manufactures eggs, and sells them filled with toys and candy.
The ParSal founder reported that the company's new arrangement with Shaffer Distributing is expected to be a key element of its growth strategy. "Scott Shaffer's dad [Steve] was the first one to really embrace and love our machine," Parisi told VT. As a result, Shaffer became the first All American Chicken distributorship, and went on to become the largest."
Scott's brother Andy, who runs Shaffer Services (now Shaffer Entertainment), one of the Midwest's largest amusement and jukebox operations, has had success in operating ParSal's machine, Parisi added.
Shaffer Distributing has designated Bruce Homier exclusively to handle the chicken machine, which also will be marketed through other distributorships with which Shaffer does business, including American Vending Sales, Betson, Brady Distributing Co. and Lieberman Cos., among others. Homier also will sell to operators and chains, Parisi explained.
TEAMWORK: ParSal Vending Co. has appointed Shaffer Distributing as its master distributor. From left, Parsal's Rob Reilly; Bruce Homier and Scott Shaffer, Shaffer Distributing; ParSal founder Frank Parisi and Shaffer's Chuck Ropke make plans for the year ahead. [Noted: Shaffer's Paul Westbrock, not pictured, played a key role in developing the Chicken Machine alliance.]
An important contributor to the success of the All American Chicken is its versatility; the machine was designed specifically to permit easy customization, initially to allow it to be styled for the sports penchants of particular locations. "We can customize colors, decals, sound and even the inside character," Parisi said. "We designed a machine for Golden Chick on behalf of Lieberman Cos. (Bloomington, MN)." Golden Chick is a chain of 101 fast-food chicken restaurants operating in several states. It operates its own machines, using them as promotional devices for young customers and their parents.
"ParSal and Shaffer foresee the restaurant chain arena as a growing market," Parisi said. "Many chains will purchase this machine directly and use it as a promotion to entice young children to come back for more. The machine can be set up with one side to accept tokens and the other with a coin mech to accept quarters. This way you can give the child a free token and if they want more, the parents will give them more quarters for repeated play."
As ParSal's master distributor for the All American Chicken, Shaffer will work directly with other distributors, chains and operators to provide appropriate customization for the machines, and will handle all parts and service. Plans call for the distributor to begin shipping equipment at the start of the new year.
Shaffer also is working to establish relationships with distributors and operators in other countries, with an initial focus on Canada and Mexico.
The first animated bulk vending machines were developed in western Europe; one early model exported to the U.S. toward the end of the 1970s displayed a fabric "soft sculpture" chicken wearing a checked apron and bonnet and mounted on a pivot inside a small shelter. When a vend was initiated, the chicken clucked and rotated back and forth as the capsule was delivered. Loaded with egg-shaped capsules rather than the original acorn type, machines of this sort proved extremely popular in the 1980s, inspiring domestic emulation and ultimately catalyzing the development of new types, including animated and kinetic designs. That trend had fallen off by the turn of the millennium.
Parisi, who was born and raised in the bulk vending business, grew increasingly concerned with the inability of the industry's traditional technology to attract and spark the imaginations of children today. He has strived to reverse this by developing a machine that appeals to the contemporary taste for enhanced action and sensory stimulation (plus increased edginess), and incorporates state-of-the-art electronic and mechanical components for better reliability and functionality. The All American Chicken is the result.
Multimedia appeal includes unique music and custom chicken sounds, plus the performance of the animated spinning chicken enhanced by flashing lights. The fun of watching the machine make a vend inspires young customers to want to use it on every visit -- and watching others do so creates that desire in newcomers, too.
Featuring sturdy all-steel construction, the All American Chicken vender is supplied with two coin mechanisms as standard equipment, and is easily upgraded to accommodate banknotes by adding a bill validator and stacker (available as an option). It can be programmed to vend with coins or tokens, and to offer multi-play discounting.
Parisi observed that the colorful, opaque egg capsules that made their appearance in the first chicken machines four decades ago offer operators the ability to sell overstock and remainder merchandise, when desired. They also possess independent play value above and beyond the appeal of the items they contain.
ParSal Vending Co. is based at 3199 Lawson Blvd., Oceanside, NY 11572.
Shaffer Distributing Co. is headquartered at 1100 W. 3rd Ave. Columbus, OH 43212. Call (800) 282-0194 to find out about purchasing the All American Chicken or Giant Chicken Machine. The distributorship has branch offices in Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis and St. Louis, and is online at shafferdistributing.com.