Candy at Memorial University is quadrupling in price this semester: all 25 cent candy machines on campus will soon cost $1.
“The consumer has enjoyed no price increase on our product for over 10 years,” said Peter Rose, of Avalon Vending.
“It was either raise prices or get out of the business.”
Avalon Vending owns all of MUN’s candy machines, and operates several other candy dispensers across St. John’s.
Rose said the price hike isn’t just for MUN–the company plans to convert all of its quarter candy machines to $1 in the coming months.
Candy a quarter for 10 years, as costs rise
Candy prices have been at 25 cents for close to a decade, but Rose said the purchasing price of candy increases multiple times a year. Chocolate almond prices went up by 24 per cent in the last price hike alone, he said.
Robert Whitty of competing company Newfoundland Vending owns around 50 quarter candy machines across St. John’s. He said he too is planning on increasing his prices to $1 in the coming months.
Whitty said that the cost of purchasing candy is simply getting too high too fast—cases of chocolate almonds that previously cost $90, for example, now cost $150.
As of publication, the price increase is only in effect for MUN machines in the University Centre.
Loonie machines dispense more candy, but less value
Avalon Vending has spent $10,000 on new parts for the machines so that they will dispense more candy. Rose said they’ve bought the biggest dispensing trays on the market.
The Muse determined $1 machines do produce more candy on average than the 25 cent machines, but the increase in candy does not equal the increase in price.
The $1 chocolate almond machines produce an average of 83 per cent more candy than the 25 cent machines—despite a 300 per cent price hike.
The university itself does not receive any commission from candy sales. Avalon Vending also gives a portion of its revenue to Spinal Cord Injury N.L.
Rose said chocolate almonds are by far the company’s biggest sellers, hence their disproportional prevalence.
The Muse investigates: How much chocolate are are you getting for your coin?
In light of the price increases, the Muse embarked on a mission to determine the value of candy machines on campus, with a particular focus on chocolate almonds.
Chocolate almond dispensers are the most pervasive candy machine at MUN, with at least 15 units spread across the St. John’s campus. Rose said chocolate almonds are by far the company’s biggest sellers.
Armed with a bag full of quarters and loonies, the Muse conducted more than 50 trials at 17 machines to determine how much candy you’re getting for your coin.
Based on our findings, chocolate almond machines that still cost 25 cents yield an average of 4.2 chocolate almonds per quarter.
The machines that only accept loonies, meanwhile, yield an average of 7.7 almonds.
Thus, while prices increased by 300 per cent, almond yield only increased by an average of 83 per cent—less than double the product for quadruple the cost.
Almond yield is unpredictable
As well, paying a higher price for almonds does not mean you’ll categorically receive more candy; chocolate almond yields are inherently inconsistent. Every time you put in a coin you can expect a different amount of almonds.
One $1 chocolate almond machine we tried produced 13 almonds on one trial, then 5 the next; some machines didn’t dispense any almonds on certain trials. Rose said this was because sometimes larger almonds will get stuck in the dispenser and impede others from coming out.
If you’re considering value for money it’s worth noting that some vending machines on campus also sell packages of chocolate almonds. These packages cost $2 and consistently contain 14 almonds—only slightly less than the relative average yield on the $1 candy dispensers and significantly less of a gamble.
While less thoroughly investigated, the Muse found $1 Mike and Ike machines to dispense an average of 32.6 candy pieces per loonie, while the 25 cent machines yielded an average of 14.3 pieces. Thus the modified Mike and Ike machines produce more relative value for money than the chocolate almond machines and were decidedly more consistent in their output.
The 7.7 chocolate almond average was obtained based on 22 trials across five $1 machines. It did not include data from the almond machine by the UC bus stop next to the Glossette machine, which produced 0 almonds over four trials and was evidently jammed.
Chocolate almond yield for the $1 machines ranged from 0 to 13 almonds with a median of 9.
The average chocolate almond yield for the 25 cent machines was obtained based on 20 samples across eight chocolate almond machines.
Chocolate almond yield for the 25 cent machines ranged from zero to 7 almonds with a median of 4.