Vending machines are no longer just carrying candy and chips. As outlined in Food Dive's 5 factors that can make or break a vending machine customer, the vending machine market is expanding in both size and variety. From comparatively tame fare like popcorn and hot dogs to the more fearless fresh fruit and booze dispensers, we're counting down the top ten outlandish vending machines that could soon be on every street corner.
While their convenience is presently matched only by their novelty, these vending machines have the potential to replace (or, at the very least, compete with) the supermarkets in the future. Skip the human interaction and insert your coins here — let's do this, countdown-style, from weird to weirdest:
Who needs a living person to serve up popcorn and butter topping when you have a machine covered in elves? This machine may be adorned with stars and stripes, but the concept is right at home in Japan.
(Image credit: secretagentmoof)
While the French may swear by their freshly baked bread, bread vending machines may quickly meet the needs of dough-starved Americans who don't have a boulangerie on every street corner. Wait... even the French have bread vending machines!
(Image credit: Tracy Hunter)
8. HOT DOGS
There is a lot of fast food out there, but this hot dog vending machine is even faster. In a mere 15 seconds, it heats up the hot dog and hands it to the customer.
(Image credit: maureen lunn)
7. FRUITS & VEGETABLES
While vending machines have long been the domain of candy bars and potato chips, vending machines bearing fruits and vegetables are starting to sprout up around the world. But it wasn't easy: unlike candy, fruit perishes rather rapidly and, in an innovative attempt to prevent that eventuality, Del Monte created temperature-zoned vending machines and special packaging to delay the ripening process.
(Image credit: panina.anna)
Apparently, beer vending machines are everywhere in Japan. If you want to see how it works, check out this video of a little boy buying a beer from one, which, really, is an all-too-obvious explanation for why there isn't one on every American street corner... yet.
(Image credit: elliottbledsoe)
Apparently targeted at young people who live alone and don't have time to eat breakfast, Dole has unleashed banana-dispensing vending machines in Japanese train stations. But how does the fruit stay fresh? For the Dole machines, an operator checks in three times a week, restocking them with fresh produce and making sure nothing goes bad (in this case, literally). However, rival fruit producer Del Monte took an alternative approach by wrapping their bananas in protective wrapping to prevent bruising. The vending machine fruit-protection arms race finally got completely out of hand when Jon Stewart of the Daily Show produced his own coconut-protecting coconut case.
(Image credit: pauldesu.com)
Why brave the pre-dawn traffic to the local farm, when consumers can just get their breakfast eggs at conveniently-located vending machines? Naturally, the eggs don't just drop out of a slot like a typical vending machine; once money is inserted, a door pops open and consumers can retrieve their cartons.
(Image credit: JoshBerglund19)
3. DEEP DISH PIZZA
Using only frozen pizza and a vending machine, Tombstone successfully cornered to the "I have late-night munchies" crowd. For these customers, there is nothing better than a pizza place that never closes.
(Image credit: matchity)
2. SAKE & RICE WINE
If anyone needs proof that vending machines are the food and beverage marketplaces of the future, look no further than this sake-spewing "liquor shop" from Japan:
(Image credit: Adam Kahtava)
1. MAKER'S MARK WHISKY
This whiskey-dispensing bad boy offers up three drinks at a time and even checks your IDs. I mean, what's next, a marijuana vending machine with a built-in fingerprint scanner?! Oh wait...
(Image credit: wachovia_138)
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