Here in the states we are accustomed to pretty traditional vending machines. In fact, finding vending machines isn't always that easy, as vandalism has entered into the mix. Vending machines are so convenient, we wish there were more.
In other countries, particularly Japan, vending machines are a way of making popular items convenient. Walk down a residential street and you will see at least three vending machines placed on popular street corners for everyone's use.
We researched and found some of the most interesting and somewhat strange vending machines in the world. There are others, such as champagne, fish bait and Ipods and according to what we've read, Kraft Foods, Samsung, and Crane Merchandising Systems have partnered to create vending machines of the future. The high-tech version will use touch screen technology. The buyer will be able to see a 360-degree view of the product before buying to make sure it is perfect.
We applaud this effort, as convenience is starting to run the world and vending machines that offer more than junk food and sugary beverages would be welcome. In fact, America seems to lead the pack in terms of fast food and processed food. Wouldn't it be an interesting turn-of-events if the new machines being invented by Kraft/Samsung/Crane offered items and food that added to our health and well-being? Would the rest of the world follow?
10 Crabs: China
This may seem pretty crazy to us, but in China live crabs are so popular that the vending machines are extremely handy. From August to October, the Chinese population can't get enough of these edible creatures. The vending machine's temperature keeps crabs alive and is restocked on a daily basis. For around $3.27 you get a crab, crab vinegar and ginger tea, which are the perfect additions for a crab meal for one.
9 Sprinkles Cupcakes: U.S.A.
Sprinkles Cupcakes started this new trend in New York City and it is now sweeping the country. Beverly Hills, Chicago and other markets are starting to see the magic of ordering the perfect cupcake by vending machine, which accepts credit cards. Rumor has it that the company is planning to open an ice cream shop next to the Beverly Hills machine. Talk about great marketing, Sprinkles has been the driving force for bringing cupcakes back into mainstream. Who would have thought?
8 Gold Vending Machine: United Arab Emirates
This seems a little extravagant and not a vending machine that would become popular in other countries, except for possibly Switzerland. However, if you are one of the rich and famous who happens to be staying at Abu Dhabi's Emirates Palace hotel you might be in the mood to stock up on a few gold bars. You could stand there all day to watch the ticker on gold prices, as it is updated every 10-seconds. Simply use your credit card and watch the little gold bars drop out. This is one vending machine that better never go on the blink or we're afraid we'll see billionaires kicking and tilting like we've never seen before.
7 Tie Vending Machine: Japan
There are so many good things about this vending machine. These are truly emergency goods for any business person. Neckties will always come in handy for that last-minute meeting or dinner out. Also, memory cards, batteries and disposable cameras are available and bound to also help out travelers in a pinch. It's sort of interesting that the 7-Eleven company has elected to create mashed potato vending machines for the people in Singapore versus a more typical machine that would dispense goods sold in their stores. It's takes all kinds.
6 Pizza Vending Machine: Italy
This vending machine might put pizza delivery out of business in America. Put one of these babies in every apartment house or residential community and Domino's, Pizza Hut and the others might need to repurpose their goods. With this Italian wonder you can order your personal pizza with your favorite ingredients and in about two minutes you'll be ready to eat. We're so excited about this vending machine that even we want one. The even better news is the product is fantastico and comes out hot and fresh. This machine would be perfect for renting out to kid's parties.
5 French Fries: Canada
We thought Americans were crazy about their French fries. Evidently Canadians love them just as much. These are the healthier version, as they are not deep fried in oil. However, the finished sticks are definitely golden brown when they are dispensed in less than one minute. This is another machine that could make someone a billionaire by placing them in apartment buildings, community centers and neighborhoods. They would definitely give Micky D's a run for their McMoney.
4 Mashed Potatoes: Singapore
Seriously? Mashed potato cravings must be on the rise in the wonderful world of Singapore? This is a bit of a surprise since the country's population is a mix of Chinese, Malysians and Indians who aren't known for dining on mashed spuds. Evidently 7-Eleven introduced this machine in 2012 with the taters made by the Maggi company. So far, the machines can't be found in the states, but it seems they would be a natural addition to any 7-Eleven.
3 Beer and Liquor: Japan
This type of vending machine is not a surprise. In fact, the surprise is that they aren't found in all alcohol-drinking countries. The U.S. has such strict age laws regarding alcohol, that it is unlikely we'll see it there any time soon. Imagine being able to literally run down to the corner of your neighborhood and grabbing a couple cans of brew for you and your buddy who showed up on the fly. In Japan, these machines are as popular as cigarette machines. The unfortunate catch is that the machines are regulated and must be turned off between the hours of 11 pm and 6 am. So middle-of-the-night cravings need to be planned, after all.
2 Toilet Paper: Japan
Japanese commerce always seems to be ahead of the rest of the world in many ways. Ever realize that you just used the last bit of toilet paper this morning and you forgot to run out and buy more? Granted, it doesn't happen often enough to warrant a vending machine here in the states where warehouse stores keep most of us stocked up on everything. However, the whole vending machine idea is wonderful and stocking them with necessities sure would save a lot of trouble... at least until we all have our own 3D printers to make anything we want, when we want.
1 Lettuce: Japan
This was a little perplexing at first, but after some thought it seemed obvious that many people would love to buy fresh lettuce every day without having to run to the grocery store? Now in the states, we are buying prepacked lettuce in neat little plastic bags in the hopes it will last until it's eaten. Farmer's markets everywhere are promoting "locally-sourced and grown" produce yet it's still not easy to get in our grocery stores. In most of the world, smaller refrigerators are used and buying fresh daily or every-other-day is common. This would be a great way to go, especially if more than one type of lettuce was made available; or how about an entire salad ingredients vending machine complete with dressings?