The F. L. Jacobs Company, A Soda Machine Company
F. L. Jacobs originally specialized in manufacturing home appliances like the Jacobs Launderall washing machine out of Detroit, Michigan. They began manufacturing soda vending machines for Coca-Cola in the 1940’s from a plant in Indianapolis, Indiana. Their machines have a unique shape referred to by collectors as the “mailbox” shape. They are believed to be one of the few manufacturers that the Coca-Cola Company authorized to continue making Coca-Cola soda vending machines in limited quantities through the course of WWII. Like all machines made in that time, they had large capacities for serving the workers in the wartime factories. One of these was the enormous J-144. It weighed 580 lbs. without any soda in it and measured 65”H x 34”W x 35”D.
In contrast, the smallest, most sought-after and fortunately, most common of Jacobs soda machines is the Jacobs 26. The 26 was produced in the late 1940’s and measures 54”H x 19”W x 26”D. Like all Jacobs machines, it has the classic mailbox shape. This design is to accommodate the interior drum from which the soda is vended. The drum rotates to dispense the bottles. Like all the Jacobs Coca-Cola models, it vends from the narrow side of the machine and the bottles are loaded from the wider side.
Other postwar machines include the Jacobs 50 and 56 manufactured in the early 1950’s. The Jacobs 50 was a 50-bottle model that used decals to advertise Pepsi-Cola. On the other hand, the model 56 is a slicker looking machine, with an illuminated Pepsi-Cola soda “cap” on the door. Collectors have given this model the name “Pepsi Light-Up”. The Jacobs 56 was made for only two years, from 1952 to 1953. Due to its short production time and the scarcity of models with the “cap” intact, this is one of the most sought-after soda machines and is a rare model to find today.
In addition to the models already mentioned, Jacobs made the model 35, produced in the late 1940’s to the early 1950’s. It is identical to the 26, except that the drum was redesigned to hold nine additional bottles and there was room in the machine to cool 41. Jacobs also produced what turned out to be their final model, the 108, proclaiming it the “fastest loading medium cooler made”. The F. L. Jacobs Company moved to Traverse City, Michigan around 1950. Unfortunately, there weren’t to be any more Jacobs soda machines coming down the production line. It seems that in 1951 the F. L. Jacobs Company was encouraged by the U.S. Department of Justice to repay $15 million “in excess profits from producing necessities and munitions of war during World War II”. They voluntarily paid back the money, and it obviously put a strain on the company. They closed their doors in 1953.
F. L. Jacobs Company
1100 W. 21st Street