There’s no argument that vending machines are awesome. After all, a machine that will let you buy food and drinks without having to interact with a human being is really where all (or at least most) technology should be headed. Apparently, the very first vending machine was referenced by a first-century Greek mathematician who talked about a machine that dispensed holy water. While we’ve come a long way since then, some of these examples of weird and wonderful vending machines from around the world will make you question whether society’s actually advanced at all.
First debuting in the US in Seattle (the very first ones ever appear to have been in Canada a year earlier), these vending machines are available in some US states where medical marijuana is legal. You have to swipe some form of ID to ensure that you’re allowed to make any purchases, and because it’s illegal to buy marijuana by card, you can only pay in cash or bitcoin. While it’s been made clear that this is only for medical purposes, who would’ve thunk we’d get to a point where you could actually buy pot (or “Girl Scout Cookies”) from a vending machine?
9. Live crabs
Why would you want to buy live crabs from a vending machine? Why, China, why? Those poor creatures.
A range of crab sizes and prices are available, naturally with the biggest crabs costing the most. The crabs aren’t actually dead, and are instead chilled so that they’re still alive (and thus “fresh”), which is even worse. If you don’t feel like buying crabs, then ginger and vinegar packets are also available from the same machine. Ugh.
8. Toilet paper
Available in Japan (reportedly outside of a public toilet, duh), this vending machine dispenses toilet paper, although we don’t think anyone who’s in need of toilet paper will have the ability to go to a vending machine to get said toilet paper. Also you’d think that they’d surely provide toilet paper for free? And are you paying for a whole roll? If so, what do you do with it once you’re done? Do you just leave it in a toilet in a sort of karmic “pass it on” deal? Or do you carry it out around like an emergency tampon? We have so many questions.
7. Gold bars
Because who hasn’t gone on a night out and gone, ‘Oh crap, I don’t have enough gold. Wait, let me just pop in here and take some out,’ am I right? The “Gold to Go” (what catchy branding) machine is available in several countries, including the UAE, the US, and Germany. One was even in Westfield four years ago, although we’re not sure if it’s still there (will keep an eye out on our next visit). You can even get gold coins that come in proper gift boxes for whenever you’re running late to some oligarch’s party and have yet to pick up a present.
Installed in Selfridges two years ago, this vending machine holds mini bottles of Moët & Chandon. You have to pre-pay at a counter to use the machine, and instead of dropping the bottles like you would with a can of Coke, there’s actually a robotic gold arm that gently delivers your purchase into a slot. Now this is a vending machine we wouldn’t mind having installed in the Gadgette office.
Carvana is the first ever car vending machine, and can be found in Nashville, TN in the US. However, you don’t actually go and manually insert thousands of dollars for a selected car. Instead, you first purchase a car online, enter your name into the machine, and then insert a special Carvana coin and voilà, your car will be dispensed. The company behind Carvana created it in an effort to make automobile purchases more efficient and, let’s face it, a lot cooler than signing a mountain of paperwork in a car dealer’s office.
4. Sex toys
Taken by Instagram user francescabaldry in Madrid, as you can see, this machine carries an assortment of sex accessories, including toys, lube, and of course, condoms (ie all the essentials). We don’t really know what else to say about this except there seems to be something for everyone. Oh, and they also carry pregnancy tests, so it’s a one-stop shop for both before and after your rowdy night of sexual escapades. How efficient.
Created by footwear company Rollasole, these vending machines are aimed at women who know that #thestruggleisreal after a long night in heels. The first Rollasole machine was set up in Bristol, and since then, they’ve been available across the UK, the US, and Australia – although we’ve never actually seen one. We love this idea, and think it’d be even better if there was an app available to locate the closest Rollasole machine at 2AM after a Friday night out. Also, think how happy Monica would’ve been in The One With Monica’s Boots if this had existed then.
2. “Used” underwear
While this is obviously as gross as it sounds, we will clarify that it’s not like these are just readily available on street corners in Tokyo. In reality, you can only find these if you’re actively searching for them in really sketchy places. Also you can’t really be sure if they’re actually used underwear, which they very well might not be. Bottom line is if you actually know where to find one of these machines, people are going to be more interested in how and why you knew where it was than they will be in the machine itself.
We’d like to keep our faith in humanity, so we’re going to assume these machines are for laundry fans who just want more laundry to do (Kryten would be keen), and nothing else.
1. Short stories
The French city of Grenoble is the first in the world to set up vending machines that dispense short stories in an effort to make people’s commutes less boring. The stories are free to print, and commuters can choose between one-minute, three-minute, and five-minute long pieces of fiction. A vending machine that’s free, makes daily commutes less tedious, and promotes reading? How soon can we get these in all major tube stations?
Main Image © iStock/ideabug