The vending machines of Gebr. Stollwerck marked the beginning of the era of the German coin machines. Inspired by a study trip to America, Ludwig Stollwerck got the idea in 1887 of filling vending machines with merchandise and chocolate. Together with Max Sielaff and Theodor Bergmann, he developed the first vending machine models "Rhenania" and "Merkur" with cast iron housings from Bergmann and a patented coin test system from Max Sielaff. Smaller wall vending machines with two apertures for the sale of chocolate and sweets, which were already widespread in 1887, were followed in the following years by large automatic vending machines with richly decorated housings. By 1893 there were already 15,000 vending machines in Germany, and in 1894 there were 4,000 units in New York alone. The origin of the vending machines in Germany can thus be traced back to Stollwerck.
In 1895, Ludwig Stollwerck set up a separate company, the Deutsche Automaten Gesellschaft (DAG, Cologne), to sell chocolates in vending machines. Vending machines were increasingly being built for other items (for example, matches, Eau de Cologne, soap) as well as service machines (including weighing scales and automatic telescopes). In the same year, he founded Deutsche Edison Phonographs Gesellschaft mbH in Cologne, which was dedicated to the sale of phonographs - devices that were being built either as dictation or music phonographs. It was in this context that Stollwerck’s "talking chocolate" gained its fame - records made of chocolate, which could be played on toy phonographs developed by Stollwerck together with Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931). In April 1896, he also brought the first film recordings to Cologne, since he bought the usage rights of the cinematograph from the brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière from Lyon, a projection device which for the first time projected images onto a screen.