Fruit symbols on slot machines are almost as old as slot machines themselves. But why fruits? And more interestingly, why oranges, cherries, plums? Historians haven’t yet come to an agreement, and there are many theories and conflicting statements on why these particular symbols were placed on the reels. But one thing is sure: once the fruits arrived, they were here to stay.
One-armed bandit’s instant success
While classic casino games like blackjack, baccarat and even roulette have longer histories, automated machines only started appearing at the end of the 19th century. They quickly gained popularity, and manufacturers could barely cope with the demand.
When the gambling – or should we say anti-gambling – laws prohibited cash payouts, bars offering the machines to customers had to adapt quickly. Some simply provided rewards in the form of drinks, snacks, cigarettes (maybe cigars for bigger wins) and similar bar items at the counter. Others went a step further and disguised the slot machines as vending machines, dispensing chewing gum with every pull. The gum would, of course, be traded back for the “unofficial official” award.
Forbidden fruits are the sweetest
One theory holds that these adaptations were the breakthrough moment for the fruit symbols. Symbols of fruits were added on the reels to match the candy and gum flavours available as prizes. As to why these specific flavours – orange, plum, cherry, lemon – were offered, one speculation sounds particularly plausible. As bar owners wanted to buy the cheapest gum to minimise their expenses, gum manufacturers sold them gum with flavours they had trouble selling.
One cannot but admire the poetry of this full circle. Unpopular fruits got associated with an underground, forbidden activity and – as it tends to happen with forbidden fruits – inevitably became the sweetest, most desired ones.
What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger
Later, when the prohibition on alcohol struck, the whole bar scene went underground. The 1930s saw the emergence of speakeasies, establishments that served illegal alcohol, with a touch of gambling on the side. It wasn’t long before the owners realised since their enterprise was already illegal, they might as well start offering cash prizes again. This gave slots an additional boost in popularity. The fruit-flavoured prizes were gone, but the symbols stayed.
Long live the king
When the prohibition period ended, the production of slots grew exponentially for a couple of decades. The slot machine, the undisputed king of gambling establishments, was finally crowned, never to be dethroned again. Even though the industry evolved well beyond the fruit machine concept, fruit symbols continue to represent the roots of the slot machine identity to this very day.
Recent fruit releases from the Oryx RGS
The true testament to the never-ending popularity of fruit machines is the steady flow of fruit-themed slot games added to the Oryx RGS. Below is our cherry-picked selection:
Stacks of Jacks
Jack is a lighthearted jester beaming with joy. His smile is highly contagious, especially for players who catch Jack stacked across all reels.
Some players like fruits, and then some players can’t get enough of fruits. No matter the type, the 6-reels-4-rows Fruit Rush makes sure no one ever runs out of vitamins.
Asian Fruits Combo
In Asia, the charismatic fruit king Durian reigns supreme and brings entertainment and winnings to players worldwide. Make a spin here.
True love might be hard to find, but Fruit Love certainly isn’t. You can find it on Oryx RGS.
It’s a known fact that fruit machines usually don’t have any special features. Fancy features, that is, as Sunny Seven symbols pay up to 5000x total bet.
Sevens & Books
Fruits in fruit machines always have companions in various forms like a 7 symbol, a BAR symbol, a Bell … So Gamomat added one of their own: the notorious Book symbol.
Last but not least, let’s not forget about Fruit Lines, the latest release from “yours truly”. The first game from the new generation of Oryx games is a 5-line fruit machine with lean looks and mean rewards. Be sure to check it out!
Author: Jernej Demšar, Copywriter at Oryx Gaming