Nazi Gumball Ring… Or Is It?

Nazi RingMy friend Will brought my attention to this curious article, Toy Vending Machine Gives Tulsa Boy a Nazi-Themed Ring. A Oklahoma mother was shopping at a dollar store when her son got the ring pictured there on the left from one of those little toy vending machines.

My first reaction was that it must be a prank being perpetrated by the boy or his mother. But when the local news ponied up some serious coin, they found a dozen other rings just like it. This led me to my second reaction: it must be something done by someone who works for the vending machine company. That could be a prank but it could also be a stunt done by some neo-Nazi. That got me searching Google Images.

I immediately noticed that I couldn’t find any Nazi ring that looked anything like this. And even a search on Nazi symbols with birds in them didn’t turn up anything that looked especially like this. Overwhelmingly, Nazi symbols contained birds with their wings outstretched. I’m sure the Nazis saw themselves as very active: birds that soared, not birds that nested. This is the best match I can come up with:

Nazi Eagle Symbol

Another question I have is how anyone could do this even if they wanted to. It would certainly be easier to create Nazi swastika decals rather than plastic rings. What’s more, let’s not forget that the Nazi swastika was first and is still part of the primary symbol of Jainism — the most peaceful religion or philosophy in the world:

Jainism Symbol Explained
Image used without permission from Jain Belief

I figure it happened as follows. The vending machine company buys these rings for about a penny a piece from some company in China. The company in China makes rings with all sorts of designs on them. They don’t know what they mean, nor do they care. They are providing stupid plastic rings at unbelievably low prices. And the people at the vending machine company don’t even look at the rings because they usually just have Hello Kitty on them anyway. What’s more, they aren’t as hung up on the Nazis as we are. They remember the Japanese! When they see a swastika, they probably think Jainism, not fascism.

All this means that it probably is a Nazi symbol. But I doubt that anyone intended it as Nazi propaganda. It was just another example of how great globalization is. And it just proves that the market is always right. Heil profits!

6 thoughts on “Nazi Gumball Ring… Or Is It?

  1. I was skeptical, too, when I saw the story. One article I found, however, said that Nazi stuff is popular in China. I think the Chinese do know what it is. The article suggested the rings in Tulsa might have been made for Chinese children and somehow accidentally got into a bag sent over here.

    • I’ve also been reminded by a friend that when we were kids, Nazi stuff was around in toys because at that time, the Nazis were still the ultimate bad guys in our little army men wars. I can well imagine that happening in China. Especially given that the Axis was pretty nasty to them in WWII, although obviously via the Japanese and not the Germans.

      I was actually discussing this article just two days ago thinking I should check into it and find out if any more is known about it. I just did and I didn’t find anyone following up.

  2. Hi, I came across this exact ring design at a yard sale and bought it. It is not plastic though, it is some sort of metal (maybe brass or copper?) with the bird being a silver color. I bought the ring for $20 hoping it might be a good investment. However, this is the first and only picture I have been able to locate on the web of this style ring. Can anyone help me out with what this might be worth or what it is? Thanks!

    • Metal?! Wow. I hope someone knows something. But I’ve been hoping that since I first wrote this. Good luck!

  3. Hi I own a resale shop and when I purchased a huge lot of vending machine toys there were multiples of these rings. The are made of some kind of metal with an adjustable band very flimsy. I have been trying to find information on them to no avail.

    • Thanks for the info. I have forgotten most of the articles I’ve written here but this one stays with me. It’s curious.

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