Cavalier Corporation History



You stand in front of the glossy red vending machine, peering through the glass.


Yep! There’s some Coke in there!
Time for a happy dance!


Cavalier Corporation made it possible for us to stroll up to that soda machine in the hallway of any hotel, many offices and schools and have an exquisitely cold pop (or a soda, if you prefer).


Cavalier Corporation was responsible for the creation of what are now some of the finest vintage vending machines ever made.

During the Depression, back in 1935, what was to become Cavalier Corporation started making pop machines (soda machines, if you must) for Coca-Cola. Cavalier was a division of the Tennessee Furniture Company until in 1938 they changed their name to Cavalier Corporation. Rather cavalier of them, really.



They started with the self-serve chest coolers like the “Junior”



In their 1958 advertising campaign, Cavalier announced that they sold “more than half a million coolers since 1935”. Nobody ever challenged them on that, so we’ll just have to accept it as true. They were producing coolers exclusively for the Coca-Cola Corporation throughout the 1960s.


Some History before 1935 and (Soda) Pop Machines

The Tennessee Furniture Company of Chattanooga started out as a sawmill. They opened originally in 1865. The sawmill offshoot was designed to make furniture out of flawed wood that they could sell directly.

It was the brainchild of Gaston Raoul, as the 2nd owner of The Tennessee Furniture Company when he also bought the Odorless Refrigeration Company. In 1905, the 2 concepts melded together to build ice coolers. Gaston quickly built the largest ice cooler company in the country.

The name Cavalier was chosen in 1923 for both the (soda) pop coolers and cedar hope chests. The Tennessee Furniture Company made furniture until 1960.


After WWII (Soda) Pop Coolers and Upright Machines

After WWII, the other manufacturers of (soda) pop coolers started making upright machines. Cavalier kept manufacturing cooler models, introducing new models for different market segments.

A low-traffic model for retail locations and offices, dubbed the dry office cooler, the FD-2 was introduced in 1945. Now there was a ice cold Coca-Cola for everyone, everywhere!

A FD-2 in our showroom at Historic Vending Company In Chicago



Once 1953 came along, Cavalier caved and started making the coin-operated, upright machines you probably think of when you hear “Coke machine”. They did look a little different at the beginning though. The C-51 was special at the time because it held 51 bottles (perhaps a clue in the name) while appearing much like the Vendo-39 which holds only, you guessed it, 39 bottles.


Cavalier 51

The Competitor’s Vendo 39’s Restored By Historic Vending Company




By 1958 and 1959 the CS-72 became the coolest cooler there was. Stare into it and you can choose up to 9 different types of (soda) pop. The older models used a side mounted crank handle and a conveyor belt to get you your bottle. The innovative CS-72 uses 8 bottles on 9 slanted shelves. When you put your money in the “Have a Coke” sign lights up. That’s how you know you can open the door and pull out your (soda) pop.


Cavalier CS 72 Restored By Us




In 1959, the square-corner C-55D was introduced. This was the first vending machine able to dispense cans or bottles. Cavalier is known throughout the industry as an innovator.



By the 1960s, the Seeburg Corporation took over Cavalier. Then Seeburg was taken over several times, until the Cavalier division spun off in 1987 and filed for bankruptcy. 13 years later Cavalier closed permanently.



Cavalier Corporation is one of the biggest vending machine and  cooler manufacturers of their time. Vintage coolers manufactured by Cavalier are sought after by collectors, enthusiast and aesthetes alike.


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