(Note: This study owes a debt to “Extracting All the M&Ms You Deserve from the 25¢ Candy Vending Machine,” a hitherto unpublished treatise on the same subject tacked to the break room bulletin board.)


Variations were found to exist in the yield of peanut M&Ms from an office vending machine. Objectives of the study include producing a more uniform non-zero M&M yield (MUN-ZM&MY). Study was conducted using standard U.S. quarters and following posted vending instructions, as well as introducing Codicil 13a of the Nineteen Laws of Technology. Experiment produced MUN-ZM&MY, which should be of interest to vending machine patrons everywhere.


For a long while, you put in your quarter, you turned slowly as the ad hoc sign taped to the machine said you should, and voila—9 peanut M&Ms. The fragile beauty of this arrangement was that the 9 M&Ms/25¢ ratio also held true if you bought a full package from the bigger electronic vending machine down the hall (27 M&Ms/75¢).

Ahh, life was fine.

However, recently the little yellow machine started working less reliably, causing great consternation and loss of quarters among clerical and lower middle-management staff. You put in your quarter, you turned slowly, and … nothing. Anecdotal reports exist of one study subject suffering a mild industrial accident, slicing the tip of his index finger on the twister lever thingy.


It turns out this study’s author is uniquely qualified for this corpus of work, as his experience jury-rigging video games in the 1980s gives him a skill set optimized for solving coin-machine conundrums (as well as an irritating habit of referring to himself in the third person).

Herewith, we will invoke the Codicil 13 of the Nineteen Laws of Technology: “In any and almost all technical situations involving hardware, never underestimate the effectiveness of either (a) jiggling it, or (b) turning it off and on.”

Since this is a non-electric device, Codicil 13b doesn’t apply. But applying Codicil 13a after the zero-yield quarter, i.e., jiggling the twister thingy back and forth a few times yielded the following results (see Appendix A for a discussion of torque ratios).


Yield: 15 M&Ms.

This is less than the all-time best yield (22), and for this two-quarter experiment we only yielded 15 M&M/50¢, which is still below average. Unfortunately, a more thorough longitudinal study of M&M yield was not possible, as Jeanette in Accounting refused to lend us a few dollars until payday.


Since 7.5 M&Ms per 25¢ is 1.5 M&Ms less than prior yield, study suggests a bifurcated M&M acquisition method:

i. If M&M-desiring subject has 75¢, suggest using larger vending machine, which has near 100% MUN-ZM&MY and reduced risk of industrial accidents.

ii. If M&M-desiring subject has 50¢ or less, suggest using small vending machine and applying Codicil 13a (a.k.a. “The Jiggle Method”). However, be reminded that your yield will vary, and this method should be pursued, like the lottery, for entertainment purposes only.