This linguistic similarity was first noticed back in the days when machine gun wielding gangsters were more frequently in the news.
The newspaper clipping on the right is from a 1934 issue of the Chicago Daily tribune. Its headline: “Gum Machine, Machine Gun Confuse Police.”
Today, there’s a type of squirt gun that substitutes its reservoir tank of pressurized water with a capsule of gumballs. This creates the illusion that the toy gun would shoot gumballs as bullets, but the gumballs are really only dispensed by unscrewing the capsule.
This same visual/verbal pun is employed in Glenn Jones’s “Gumball Machine Gun” T-shirt design below.
Were there ever any toy guns made that actually used gumballs as projectiles?
I don’t know. Probably.
(Jones’s design as it appears on a shirt, after the fold…)