The Andy Griffith Show Acorn Gumball Machine Tribute

August 18, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

The Andy Griffith Show Acorn Gumball Machine Tribute

A returning customer recently wanted a restored gumball machine from me, but with a twist - he wanted it to look like the Acorn gumball machine that actor late actor Buddy Ebsen used on The Andy Griffith Show!  

Buddy Ebsen and Ron HowardBuddy Ebsen and Ron HowardA scene from Season 2, Episode 6 of The Andy Griffith Show which featured Buddy Ebsen as a drifter named Dave befriending Opie Taylor. This scene had Dave showing Opie how to get a free gumball by saying the magic word "Tuscarora!"


I eagerly took up the challenge.  Well, really, there wasn't much of a challenge considering it was pretty much just a stock looking late 1950's era Oak Acorn gumball machine!  But, it did have a peculiar 1 cent decal placement in the globe.  More on that shortly.  I did have to do my research on the machine, which consisted of re-watching episode 6 from Season 2 ("Opie's Hobo Friend") of possibly the greatest television show in history!  But this time I had a more watchful eye on the scenes with the gumball machine.  For those that don't know (or remember), this particular episode from 1961 features guest star Buddy Ebsen just before being cast as Jed Clampett in The Beverly Hillbillies.  Buddy portrays a drifter named "Dave Browne" that befriends Ron Howard's "Opie" who becomes enamored with Dave's hobo lifestyle.  There is a pivotal scene where Dave shows Opie how he doesn't have to pay for a gumball if he knows the magic word - TUSCARORA!  

So here are some facts about the episode, and a few questions left lingering in my mind.  The Andy Griffith Show was filmed in Culver City, California.  That's also the location of The Oak Manufacturing Company (makers of the Acorn gumball machine) at that time!  The machine in question is actually two machines on a double headed stand, and it appears the second machine may have trinkets in it.  But the right sided machine with gumballs is the one used in the scenes.  So I am wondering if these machines were brought over from OAK for the episode, or just props from the studio prop department?  Heck, they could have had dozens to hundreds of them in prop storage for other shows and films.  And that leads me to the odd decal placement that I mentioned earlier - why was it so dang high on the glass globe?  I've had hundreds of Acorn gumball machines run though my shop, and many appeared to have the original decal on them.  I've never seen one places SO HIGH on the globe!  Was this a decision by the studio or director to have a clearer shot of the gumballs in the scene?  Or was it just a sloppily applied decal from the factory?  Note, that the trinket machine on the left side of the stand also has the really high placement as well from other angles in the scene. 

Acorn Gumball Machine RestorationAcorn Gumball Machine RestorationAcorn gumball machine restoration work being done on the Andy Griffith Tribute machine.

Anyhow, I had a great late 1950's era Acorn machine (tear drop chute) that was going to be perfect for this restoration.  The paint wasn't bad, but it was two shades of red.  The coin mech was fair.  But best of all, it had the thick, original embossed Acorn glass globe that is so sought after now.  No cracks or chips!  Just a great machine that is going to give this guy years and years of great service for he and his family.  I did apply the water slide 1 cent decal way high on the globe like the one from the show, and I decided to paint it red.  Of course, the original show is black and white, but red seemed like the best educated guess considering almost all of them came out of the factory that color and because of the factory's close location to the studio.  

Below are some photos of the finished gumball machine and some photos during the restoration.  Also, be sure to check out my past gumball machine restorations by clicking HERE!

The Andy Griffith Acorn Gumball Machine TributeThe Andy Griffith Acorn Gumball Machine Tribute

The Andy Griffith Acorn Gumball Machine TributeThe Andy Griffith Acorn Gumball Machine TributeThis vintage Acorn gumball machine was restored to look like the machine used by Buddy Ebsen in "Opie's Hobo Friend" episode of The Andy Griffith Show.

The Andy Griffith Acorn Gumball Machine TributeThe Andy Griffith Acorn Gumball Machine Tribute

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