ENID, Okla. (KFOR) – From the late 1940s to the late 1950s, mom and pop grocers, gas stations, or hardware stores would place round top red, or red and white Coke machines just outside their doors to help drum up business.

“This is a Vendo 39,” says Marc Koehn as he opens up an old pop dispenser. “It would hold 39 bottles.”

Customers could feed a nickel, later a dime, into the slot for a cold bottle of pop.

So what happened to these colorful refrigerators?

“They might be sitting in somebody’s garage,” he imagines.

Of the small percentage that survive, more than a few come through his Sodatime Restoration Shop in Enid, a converted garage where that refreshing history can be restored to its original shine.

“It’s a hobby for me,” he smiles, “but I have a lot of fun with it.”

The survivors are littered across the country in barns or backrooms.

But the machines most people want, made by the Vendo Corporation between 1948 and 1959 are worth a mint now.

“1959 was the last year for the round top,” Koehn points out. “That’s the one everyone wants. It’s a collectors’ machine.”

Marc started what he calls his hobby more than 25 years ago, learning the ins and outs, how to fix the machinery and motors.

They were well built.

Koehn makes them brand new again.

“That’s what it’s all about,” he says. “Taking something pretty rough and bringing it back.”

He might only restore two or three in a year.

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In fact, you can watch the process on a unique YouTube channel he calls Sodatime Restoration.

He already has enough machines to keep him busy through the end of 2024.

Referring to a just finished project, he boasts, “There’s things on there that are probably better than factory.”

The machines lucky enough to find their way here become collectors’ items, good to dispense 8 or 12 ounce bottles for another half-century or more.

They are pieces of history that stay cool for longer than anyone ever thought possible.

Check out Marc Koehn’s Sodatime Restorations channel.

Great State is sponsored by WEOKIE Credit Union

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