The Egg Vending Machine in Aptos

May 1, 2013

OK, sure, you could just go and buy your eggs at the grocery store like everyone else. You could do that.

Or you could go and get yourself 22 cage-free eggs from a special vending machine that features dancing animatronic chickens.

Yep. Dancing chickens. You read that right.

Which would you prefer?

Not long after moving here, a friend kept telling me about something called the chicken show. She declined to give further details, insisting it was something I needed to see.

Eventually she took me to Glaum’s Egg Ranch in Aptos to see this fabled chicken show, better known as the egg vending machine.

Could there be anything more quintessentially Santa Cruz?

Stick three crisp dollar bills in the slot and out comes a tray of 22 fresh eggs. Meanwhile, a group of seasonally-attired animatronic chickens sing and dance for you. How much more fun can buying eggs be? This is definitely more exciting than the far more rote egg vending machines they have in Japan, which simply dispense eggs minus the entertainment.

Currently the chickens are decked out in their spring and summer finest, though it changes with the seasons and holidays. Easter, Christmas and Halloween all get tribute, as do even smaller holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day. The song remains the same though.

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So what’s the deal with Glaum’s dancing chickens?

Well, it’s an invention of the late Marvin Glaum, who died in 2004. Marvin’s father started Glaum’s Egg Ranch back in Nebraska before moving his family to California in the 1940s. Marvin later took over the family business, which he and his wife eventually moved from Live Oak to its current spot in Aptos.

Marvin and his wife designed, constructed and modernized the Aptos facility in 1957 and it’s been there ever since. An innovator with a mechanical flair, Marvin gained wide recognition in the U.S. egg industry. Marvin and Dorothy Glaum’s four children began helping at the ranch from a young age, gathering eggs and delivering them to neighbors. It was his idea to create the vending machine, though it’s gone through a lot of changes. His daughter Sherrie designs and changes the animatronic chickens’ costumes.

As of June 1, the vending machine will no longer be open on Sundays. The new hours will be Monday-Saturday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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