​​The Origins of Iconic Game Symbols

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Slot machines have been popular for decades. Over that time, they have been inextricably tied to certain symbols. In this article, we explore the fruit, cherry, seven, BAR and wild symbols and how they came to be.



Due to the use of specific symbols, classic slots are sometimes still known as ‘fruit machines’, but where did these popular images come from? Before gambling was legal, slot machines were seen in settings such as bars and saloons. However, they couldn’t pay out money directly. Instead, bars would generally include things such as free drinks as prizes. However, one of the most popular prizes had nothing to do with alcohol.

Chewing gum was an ever-present prize in early slot machines. Lucky spinners could win a treasure trove of gum with all manner of flavors! Slot machines introduced fruit symbols to let players know what flavor of gum they had won before they started chewing.


The famous cherry symbols have been a staple of slot machines for many, many years. As you might guess, they also date back to when chewing gum was a popular prize. But why did cherries become so much more iconic than other fruit symbols? Is cherry chewing gum just more popular than other flavors?

The answer, surprisingly enough, lies not in the flavor of gum. Instead, cherries were a special symbol similar to some of today’s bonus symbols. If three cherries landed on the board, no matter if they were next to each other or not, they typically led to a win regardless of the other symbols on the slot reel. Due to this, they quickly became known as a lucky symbol, thus the popularity stuck, and today cherries remain one of the most easily identifiable slot machine symbols.

BAR symbol

Today, the BAR symbol usually leads to an impressive payout – probably not the highest payout, but a respectable mid-tier or second-tier win. However, when the symbol was first added to slot machines, it had nothing to do with big wins.

There are a few different origin stories for the famous BAR symbol. One of the most common concerns none other than chewing gum! According to legend, the symbol was originally a photo of a pack of chewing gum. It was later replaced with the BAR symbol, which looks suspiciously similar to the Bell-Fruit Gum Company’s logo at the time.

It is generally accepted that this is the origin of the famous icon. It represented another gum win on classic slots when chewing gum was a common and popular prize.

Lucky 7

Lucky 7

One of the most common additions to slot machines, both modern and classic, is the seven (7) symbol. This symbol is almost universally positioned as one of the luckiest you can land in slot games. In fact, big jackpots are often tied to landing three of them in a row, also known as a 777 win. Some slots feature 777 symbols instead of icons with just one seven, but the outcome is the same. Landing three of them on classic slots and jackpots typically leads to the grand prize.

Unlike most of the other entries on this list, the seven symbol is not tied to chewing gum. Instead, it is a figure deeply rooted in lore, history and superstition. The number is important in various cultures, and many religions consider it a lucky number. It is also a common number for other reasons, such as the Seven Seas and the Seven Wonders of the World.

This all boils down to the following: cultures around the world see the number seven in a positive way. Because it is a widely accepted symbol of luck or other fortunes, it has become a mainstay on slot machines.

Wild symbol

Our last famous slot symbol to discuss is the wild symbol. Wild symbols are a mainstay of modern video slots, but did you know that their origins are far older? The wild symbol has been present in slot machines since day one, and they have the ability to substitute any other symbols on the board. If you land a cherry on reels 1 and 2, and a wild on reel 3, the machine interprets this as a three-cherry win! In some games, it is also designated as one of the highest-paying symbols.

What do you think about the origins of the most iconic slot symbols in use today? If you’re considering diving into the world of casino slots, make sure to keep them in mind!

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