If you’ve ever taken a spin on a classic 3-reel slot machine, you’ve likely encountered the traditional symbols dancing across the reels. Bells, lemons, cherries, and the omnipresent 7s – they’re all part of the experience. One symbol, however, stands out as particularly enigmatic – the BAR. Unlike its fruit-themed counterparts, there’s nothing intuitively gambling-related about a BAR symbol, which just begs the question: why is it there? While there’s a wealth of information available online, discerning the origins of this symbol requires a bit more than a cursory search.
The BAR symbol in slot machines has a fascinating history that dates back to the early 20th century. Originally, the machines didn’t dispense cash winnings due to gambling laws. Instead, the machines were used to distribute flavoured chewing gum, symbolised by the various fruit icons. The Bell-Fruit Gum Company, one of the leading manufacturers of these machines, decided to include their logo on the reels, a stylised ‘bar’ taken from their corporate emblem. Over time, this logo became synonymous with the machines themselves, eventually evolving into the familiar BAR symbol we know today. As laws changed and cash payouts became commonplace, the fruit and BAR symbols stuck around, serving as a nostalgic nod to the history of these popular gambling devices.
While the gum theory is widely accepted, some historians cast doubt on its validity. They argue that during the early inception of slot machines, there weren’t any chewing gum companies producing single fruit-flavoured gums. Single fruit flavour gums, as we understand them today, were a much later invention. The concept of dispensing a specific flavour of gum based on the alignment of fruit symbols on the reel, therefore, may not hold water. The gum dispensing function may have been a legal workaround for the gambling laws of the time, but the alignment of a single flavour with a particular fruit symbol could be an interpretation added retrospectively. The symbolic relationship between the fruit symbols and the flavours they represented might have been more arbitrary than we have been led to believe, with the BAR symbol as a possible exception. This debate over the origins and symbolism of the classic slot machine icons only adds to their enduring allure and mystery.
Even in the age of video slots and online gambling, the iconic BAR symbol remains a favourite among players around the world. Its enduring popularity lies not only in its nostalgia-inducing roots, but also in its simplicity and recognisability. Despite the influx of themed slots boasting intricate graphics and narratives, many gamblers still gravitate towards the traditional symbols for their familiarity and straightforward gameplay. Moreover, the BAR symbol often denotes high-value winnings, further cementing its appeal to players seeking the thrill of a potential big win. As such, even as technology propels slot machines into new terrains, the BAR symbol endures, a testament to the lasting allure of classic slot gaming.
This article delves into the intriguing history of the BAR symbol, one of the most recognisable icons in slot machines. It explores the popular theory of the BAR symbol’s origin, which ties it to the early 20th-century era where slot machines dispensed chewing gum instead of cash, a workaround to gambling laws of the time. The Bell-Fruit Gum Company, a leading manufacturer of these machines, is said to have included its logo, a stylised ‘bar’, on the reels, which over time became the BAR symbol we encounter today. However, this article also presents a counterargument, suggesting that the relationship between fruit symbols and the flavours they represented could be more arbitrary than believed, adding to the enduring allure and mystery of these classic slot icons. Despite the evolution of gaming technology, the BAR symbol persists in its popularity due to its nostalgia, simplicity, recognisability and association with high-value winnings. The article concludes with a list of popular slot games featuring the BAR symbol, demonstrating its timeless appeal.
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