Vending machines are usually sad, unfortunate, last resorts for those of us who are overwhelmingly busy and only have time for quick, over-priced snacks rather than healthy, balanced meals during our work days. We’ve all had lunches of granola bars and incredibly old pastry treats when we were tied to our desks or had to crack down and finish our work. Trips to the vending machines have become all too familiar excursions filled with dread and heavy sighs. But you know, vending machines don’t have to be the mundane and disappointing quick stops that we are so used to. From the ’90s to today, vending machines and the variety of oddities they dispense have diversified. As technology has advanced and cultures worldwide have demanded increasingly more convenient solutions to their daily problems, vending machines have become diverse, greatly technical, and downright odd. You’d be amazed at what you can find in vending machines worldwide. Almost every need you could imagine can be fulfilled by a quick stop at a vending machine. Welcome to the age of automated technology!
Of all the wonderful and, in many cases, disturbing items that have made it onto this list, many had to be cut. However, take solace in the fact that in some places of the world, you can find comfort items and necessities like socks, basic toiletries, and even ties in convenient vending machines. Check out our list of the 15 weirdest items you are able to find in a vending machine, and see what others might deem important enough to get on the go.
15. Guitar Supplies
How many times have you been out and about with your guitar, playing whatever original tunes come to mind as you roam the streets of an urban center when suddenly you notice that you’ve broken a string on your guitar or the pick has slipped out from between your fingers and fallen down a sewer grate? How tragic! We’re guessing this has actually never happened to you or that, if it has, you are the type of person that wears a fedora or a formal vest over a plain white T-shirt. Yet, if you have found yourself to be that unfortunate someone, fret not (see that pun there? We’re proud of that one)! This vending machine, found in Portland, dispenses things guitarists (and other strings instrumentalists, like those playing violins, mandolins, and ukuleles) might need on the go or in tight spots, like picks, strings, and tuners. This hipster vending machine is wildly popular in Portland and is likely to come to an urban center near you soon enough.
We all get bored while we’re waiting for the bus or train on our morning commute to work. This is especially true if your phone dies, you leave your book at home, or you run out of data on your monthly plan. You’re suddenly stuck staring off into space while you wait the minutes (that seem like hours) for your transit to get there, knowing full well that the actual trip will seem perpetually longer. If you’re commuting with kids, it’s even worse if their entertainment options exhaust. Do not fear, for your concerns have been anticipated and LEGO has prepared the perfect solution. In Germany (as well as in many other western European countries), you can find vending machines that dispense LEGO construction kits in train stations where there is a high volume of families and regular commuters. This LEGO vending machine fulfills the need for entertainment. With a toy like this, that so well promotes fine motor skills and strategic planning, it’s hard not to pull your wallet out.
These umbrella dispensing vending machines are shockingly more common than you might think. Considering that the vending machine offers ultra small and portable umbrellas, you’d think commuters and travelers would be able to remember to carry these small commodities on their own. Yet, enough customers consistently forget umbrellas in typically rainy environments that umbrella vending machines are have been successful nonetheless. These machines are very frequently found in urban, wealthy areas where rain storms can spring up out of nowhere and are hugely popular in cities like London, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. While it would certainly be more logical for you to simply remember to cram a tiny umbrella, raincoat, or poncho into your bag before leaving for the day. It may also be worth using the vending machine once just to get the experience of retrieving an umbrella from a machine’s slot. Though, one should avoid making a habit of it, in efforts to conserve materials.
Sure, there are rumors and popular gossip about vending machines where you can buy used underwear. While most outlets vehemently deny these actually exist (and some concrete, tangible evidence exists) we’re not talking about the dirty and flat out disgusting stuff. Rather, we’re talking clean, packaged, never-before-used underwear of good quality. All over the United States and in some other countries as well, you can find these Calvin Klein underwear vending machines that dispense both male and female undergarments of most common sizes. Why on Earth would you need this kind of vending machine? There are plenty of reasons, from understandable (say, you spilled soda on your lap at the mall and need a fresh pair) to the more abnormal (for example, you’re running late for work after a one night stand and could really use a fresh pair of undies). Whatever your purpose is, Calvin Klein has got your back.
11. Toilet Paper
This one might seem a bit more difficult to explain. Why on Earth would someone need to run to a vending machine for toilet paper (let alone multicolored toilet paper, as this vending machine offers)? Well, these vending machines are commonly found in Asia, where it may be easy to find a public restroom but toilet paper is not always provided in the restrooms you might come upon. In fact, it’s practically standard practice to bring your own sanitary products to wipe your bum. If this were the case in America, there would be toilet paper vending machines on every block, probably with weird Ed Hardy and Vera Wang designs on them as well. These vending machines are most commonly found in Japan, especially around tourist attractions. How sweet of them to think of tourists like us, who had no idea bathroom etiquette would be so different. For that, we thank the thoughtful economists.
10. Baby Essentials
Being a parent is insanely difficult. Things that were once so simple in your single or married life become laborious and downright cumbersome. The mundane act of going on a walk around the block requires not only your phone and keys, but also a stroller, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream, tissues, boogie wipes, a boogie catcher, jackets, burping cloths, water, milk, snacks, and probably a million other things. With everything that parents are required to remember, it’s no surprise that there will inevitably be a few items that are forgotten from the list. Yet, those babies are still going to need their pacifier or blanket or sunscreen, which can sometimes leave parents in a tricky predicament. Find one of these handy-dandy machines, and parents will be saved. These machines, commonly found in the United States and Western Europe, are a Godsend to parents in a tight spot and while they’re certainly making money off the urgent need for supplies, they still seem like they’re doing a charitable act just by being present for forgetful parents.
Leave it to the French to have one of the most pretentious, weird, hipster vending machines in the world. Yes, these vending machines in France dispense fully baked and still warm “fresh” baguettes. It’s kind of hard to say that without the quotation marks because, let’s be honest, it’s coming out of a machine and by the very nature of vending machines, those “fresh” baguettes have been waiting to be dispensed for a while. It seems like a totally unnecessary vending machine since there is sure to be a local bakery or grocery store nearby that you can get a baguette that is guaranteed far more fresh than something you would pull out of a tiny slot in a machine. Where are you and where are you going that you are in such a rush and absolutely in need of a baguette at this very instant? While you may wonder whether or not there is an actual need for these vending machines, apparently they are popular enough to be kept in circulation.
8. Used/Recycled Books
Now here’s a vending machine we can all get behind. This vending machine not only encourages thrifty spenders, good reading habits, and diversification of genre interest, but it also promotes community involvement, charitable giving, and sustainable living. If any of this doesn’t interest you, perhaps you will perk up after knowing that you can buy a popular book for just a small amount. The vending machines provide used books for a cheap price in a convenient method. However, if you’ve accumulated way too many books at home and don’t know what to do with them all, you can be the philanthropic fellow that stocks the machines. The backs of these vending machine have donation slots where you can drop in books you’ve finished reading and don’t want to hold on to. Not only are you getting to clear out your apartment and get some good reads in, but you’re promoting literacy in your community and sharing your interests with your neighbors. These Canadian vending machines are making their way to the United States and we couldn’t be happier.
7. Fully Prepared Pizzas And Burgers
We’ve all been guilty of getting food from vending machines that could actually provide as decent substitutes for meals, like Hot Pockets or Cup O’Noodles. It’s a horrible and unhealthy substitute, granted, but at least it’s filling and you feel a bit better about working through lunch. Imagine having a vending machine nearby that fully prepared a cheeseburger or pizza for you, all according to how you wanted it made. That would make our brief lunch hours so much better. This vending machine asks what you want on your pizza and prepares it for you on the spot, baking it inside of the machine before spitting it out to you. We’re not talking personal pizzas, either, there are actually full-sized pizzas! The machines are all over Italy and the United States. You may even find one in your university’s student union. Here’s to hoping they figured out how to isolate the baking oven from the rest of the machinery and it doesn’t all go up in flames.
If a vending machines dispenses gold, isn’t it really just an ATM? We’re seriously asking since we don’t really know either. In any case, this vending machine or ATM (call it what you will) can be found in many western European countries like Belgium and it takes your cash in exchange for tiny gold pieces with designs on them. What’s so special about that, you ask? Well, it is real gold. If you’re paranoid that the market is going to crash again and your currency will become inflated to the point of irrelevance, investing in a stockpile of gold or some other consistently solid form of currency isn’t necessarily a bad idea. However, stopping at a vending machine where anyone can see you withdrawing mass quantities of gold doesn’t sound like the most intelligent plan either. Whatever your excuse is for stopping at this vending machine, we wish you luck and hope you don’t get mugged.
5. Pecan Pie
Where do you imagine this vending machine can be found? We’ll give you one guess, and you can automatically assume that it’s somewhere in the United States (it is pecan pie, after all). That’s right, you got it: Texas. Where else would you be able to walk up to a machine, put in a few bucks, and have a full-sized pie drop into your hands? This particular vending machine is found outside of a Mom and Pop restaurant that is famous throughout the local community for its delicious pecan pies. Word must’ve spread about this restaurant’s phenomenal pies, and they needed to find a better way to sell their pies without bogging down the checkout counter. Enter the pie vending machine. It seems like a bit too much, doesn’t it? Perhaps these costumers are demanding just a bit too much pie? Maybe, but you can’t blame a local business for capitalizing as much as possible on their greatest product.
4. Mashed Potatoes
Does a vending machine selling mashed potatoes sound absolutely terrible? It’s just potatoes, after all, and it does take a long while for them to go bad, right? We invite you to really think through this question and realize just how gross this one is. Mashed potatoes are made with more than just potatoes and often include items like milk, sour cream, and likely a few other spices and ingredients to make them extra tasty. Many of those ingredients can go bad quickly, so we guarantee that these vending machine potatoes are made with some foreign ingredients. We also want to share with you the imagery of a machine dispensing potatoes into a paper cup. It comes out creamy, somewhere between the consistency of coffee and soft serve ice cream, in off-white globs that pool in the bottom of your paper cup. Now doesn’t that just make you hungry? We bet you aren’t craving mashed potatoes anymore!
3. Canned Bread
Before we say anything else, we just need to talk about this canned bread item served out of a vending machine. While you wrap your head around this one, try and think about why in the world bread would be in a can. This kind of gross and distressing vending machine items is truly concerning to us. You’re certainly wondering, (just as we were) if it comes out looking like normal bread. Do you eat it by the spoonful or just dump it out and eat it all at once? The pictures we’ve found were pretty gross. No, it does not look like normal bread in any way, shape, or form and, apparently, it’s preferably all taken out of the can at once and it maintains its cylindrical canned shape as you eat it. Sound appetizing? If for some terrible reason, it does, you can find these canned bread vending machines all over Japan. Good luck making that sandwich.
Alright, hold your horses there champ. Yes, there are vending machines for marijuana and you can even find them here in the United States. However, it is available only in states where recreational use has been legalized. If you live in one such state, you’re in luck! These vending machines dispense all sorts of different strains of weed and give you plenty of options. Sure, these vending machines can get quite pricey, but they involve the good fortune of never having to deal with a drug dealer ever again. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why these vending machines were promoted and accepted into popular culture. Drug dealers often trade in multiple illegal substances so eliminating the need for marijuana smokers to interact with them and thus be exposed to other, more dangerous, illicit substances means less meth heads, coke addicts, and junkies. Marijuana vending machines actually make the world a healthier and safer place.
1. Live Crabs
Yes, unfortunately, you did read that correctly. This vending machine found in China dispenses live crabs in little plastic cases, as if they were premade sandwiches you could eat on the go. You might be asking yourself why these vending machines even exist in the first place. In all likelihood, these crabs are going to be taken somewhere nearby to be killed and then turned into a meal, but we really can’t make any promises. If you ever want a super cheap pet or have a desire to free the crabs, you can certainly make a pit stop at this vending machine and purchase some cheap live ones to do with as you please. Is this vending machine inhumane? Almost certainly. It’s managed to be worse than the lobster vending machine you could once find in Vegas, before they got too many complaints from customers because it was essentially a claw game with live animals.