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Updated July 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best candy dispensers

A candy dish on a desk or table can be a great addition to a home, office, or even classroom — until you notice person after person dipping their hands into it and adding their germs to the mix! Whether you’re offering free candy for a group or keeping some nearby for yourself, a safe and fun way to do it is with a candy dispenser.

Candy dispensers can have one or several chambers, allowing you to stock them with one type or a variety of candies. Some dispensers are themed, such as with cartoon characters, while some others are coin-operated and pay for themselves over time. For candy dispenser aficionados, there are ornate metal and wooden models that would be prized additions to any collection.

candy dispensers
In search of the perfect gift for someone with a sweet tooth? Choose an attractive dispenser and be sure to fill it up with their favorite treat before wrapping it!

Key considerations

Size

Dimensions: Most candy dispensers aren’t huge, but you still need to know how much desk or table space one will take up. You also need to know how much candy each dispenser can hold, so you know if you need to fill it with your favorite treat once a day or every two weeks. Candy dispensers usually range from 8 to 18 inches tall with a base that’s 5 to 10 ten inches wide.

Capacity: This varies depending on the dispenser. A typical model can hold from one to three 16-ounce bags of candy. For dispensers with multiple chambers, multiply this number by the number of chambers to have a rough idea of how much candy to get.

Type of candy

You’ll find that most candy dispensers work best with small hard or semihard candies like M&Ms, Skittles, or jelly beans. Some dispensers are designed specifically for one type of candy, such as gumballs, while other dispensers work best with wrapped candies. Figure out what your favorite candy is, and be sure the dispenser you get can accommodate it.

Ease of use

The bottom line is that a candy dispenser should be easy to operate, particularly if kids will be the primary ones using it.

Filling: No one wants a candy dispenser that’s difficult to fill. The dispensers with removable lids that either unscrew, pop off, or simply hinge open are the simplest to fill.

Dispensing: Candy dispensers use a variety of ways to deliver the candy. On some, you lift a window or turn a knob. Others work with batteries, which have their pros and cons. When they work, you push a button and receive candy, but run out of batteries and there’s no candy for you.

Design

Let’s face it… if anything should be allowed to be cute and fun, it’s a candy dispenser. While some designs are based on classic candy dispensers, others are more modern or specifically themed around popular candies like Jelly Belly or M&Ms. Colors also come in a rainbow, so you are free to choose the one that suits your fancy (or your décor).

Most candy dispensers come already assembled, so you can just fill them and start enjoying them right out of the box.

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Features

Materials

The chamber that holds the candy in these dispensers is either clear acrylic or glass so you can see the candy inside.

The materials that make up the rest of the candy dispenser range from plastic to cast metal to wood. While metal is more durable than plastic, it’s also heavier and more expensive. Candy dispensers made largely from plastic weigh about 1 to 3 pounds (empty), but those made of cast metal can weigh as much as 5 to 10 pounds.

Many candy dispensers have rubber feet to keep the dispenser from moving around on your desk or tabletop and protect the surface from scratches.

Compartments

While some candy dispensers have a single chamber that provides one snacking choice, others have multiple compartments to give you options. Dispensers with more than one chamber work particularly well in public settings, such as offices where lots of people have their own ideas about the “perfect” candy.

Coin-operated

Some candy dispensers give you your sugar fix for free; with others, it’s going to cost you. While not common, some dispensers require you to insert a coin before dispensing the candy. Some of these work with a variety of coins — foreign or domestic — and some allow you to override the coin-operated function and get your candy without the need for pocket change. The coins collect in the base of the dispenser, making it a sort of piggy bank in addition to a candy dispenser. Some of these models lock, while others don’t.

candy dispensers
DID YOU KNOW?
The first vending machines that dispensed candy date back to 1888 and were used to deliver sticks or blocks of chewing gum.
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Candy dispenser prices

Inexpensive

Candy dispensers at the lowest price points, typically $15 to $20, tend to be simple and small compared to the more expensive options. These dispensers are largely made of inexpensive plastic.

Mid-range

Spend $20 to $40 and you can find dispensers that are more durable, although plastic is still the main material here. These tend to be larger, with some multi-chamber and metal dispensers at the higher end of this price range.

Expensive

Candy fanatics and collectors will want to concentrate on the $40 to $60 and up range. Many of these dispensers are more ornate, some with metal or wooden elements. This range is also where you can find most of the battery-powered and coin-operated candy dispensers.

Some multi-chamber dispensers have a spinning base, so you can easily see all the candy choices.

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Tips

  • Choose a coin-operated dispenser for kids. A coin-operated candy dispenser provides a great way to teach kids the merits of saving money. You can even throw out some groan-worthy jokes like “Saving is sweet!”
  • Try a gumball machine. If you want a candy dispenser to dispense gumballs, you might be better off going with a dedicated gumball machine.
  • Keep it sanitary. Some candy dispensers deliver the candy to your hand, while others drop the candy into a tray. Delivery to the hand is the more sanitary option.
  • Check the dispenser chute. If you’re getting a candy dispenser to use with a healthier option like nuts, be sure that the delivery chute is designed to handle it. Irregularly shaped nuts can jam in some dispensers, while almonds are too large for dispensers designed for small candies like M&Ms.
  • Keep it stocked with fresh candy. Candy in a dispenser doesn’t last forever. Because most of these devices aren’t airtight, candy will get stale at about the same rate as candy in a bowl. Prepare to swap out old candy for new about once a month to keep it fresh.
candy dispensers
Avoid filling a dispenser with sticky candy. While a candy dispenser full of gummy bears would certainly be pretty, the candy probably won’t dispense smoothly.

FAQ

Q. Can candy dispensers be used to dispense other items?

A. That depends on the dispenser and the size of the chute. Some innovative uses for these dispensers include nuts, cereals, and dog treats. Some are capable of dispensing items as large as wrapped candies or even condiment or sweetener packets. Others work fine for something like Skittles but will jam if you fill them with anything even slightly larger, such as peanut M&Ms.

Q. How easy are candy dispensers to clean?

A. While candy dispensers typically don’t get all that dirty (particularly if you’re dispensing coated candies like jelly beans or M&Ms), candy residue and dust can still build up over time. The following are general cleaning tips for dispensers of this type, but you should always follow the manufacturer’s care and use recommendations. Unless the care instructions specifically say it’s okay, we don’t recommend putting any part of a candy dispenser in the dishwasher.

  • Use some glass or multi-surface cleaner and a soft cloth to remove fingerprints and dust from the outside of the dispenser.
  • Use a dry soft cloth if the inside isn’t too dirty, and lightly dampen the cloth with warm water if the inside needs a deeper cleaning. Cleaning the inside is much easier if the top comes off. Some have a small opening, so you'll find cleaning them more difficult.
  • Dry the dispenser thoroughly inside and out before filling it back up.

Q. Do dispensers come with candy?

A. Most of them do not include candy. Some candy dispensers do have a “Buy it with” section on the listing, so you can easily add candy to your order.

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