Vending machines have changed a lot since their invention. The first modern coin-operating vending machine was in England during the early 1880’s and it dispensed post cards. Since then, as Food & Wine showed us in this recent article, we’ve come a long and strange way.
This vending machine in Nanjing, China sells live “fresh” crabs. The machine maintains an internal temperature of 41F to keep the crabs in a hibernation state without killing them. If you receive a dead crab from the vending machine, the company says it will compensate you with three live ones.
Consider yourself in luck if you have a sudden craving for Imperial River Beluga Caviar wandering around Beverly Hills, Los Angeles — as long as it hits before 2 AM. A few machines in the neighborhood’s malls will sell you an ounce of the roe for a cool $500. They also have escargot, truffles, and even a $4 mother of pearl spoon. Thank goodness!
This $90,000 vending machine called “The Chef’s Farm” can grow 60 heads of lettuce a day using florescent light bulbs.
Let’s Pizza serves 10.5” “fresh” pies 24 hours a day for $6 each. The machine kneads the dough, sauces the pizza, adds toppings (you have a choice of three), and heats pizza in an oven in less than three minutes.
Located in Tokyo’s Shibuya train station, this machine dispenses both single bananas and ‘naners in bunches. Both are wrapped in plastic. At $1.50 per banana, they do cost more than what you would pay at the average Japanese grocery. BUT, Dole conveniently provides bins on the side of the vending machine where you can discard peels.
This mashed potato vending machine lives in a 7-11 in Singapore. It costs one dollar to fill your cup with hot mashed potatoes and a vat of gravy. A DOLLAR WELL SPENT.
The machine stores frozen potatoes. When an order comes in, the robot genius who lives inside will flash fry them for two minutes then season them before serving. It will cost you between $1.50-$2.00. What a deal.
Shuts down at 11pm :(
Peter-und-Paul-Hof farm got tired of delivering their food door to door, so they decided to set up vending machines.
Each morning in Nagoya, Japan this vending machine is stocked with fresh eggs. A bag of 10-12 eggs costs $3.
This German vending machine heats up partially baked bread in seconds.
So far, Sprinkles Cupcake ATMs are only in Beverly Hills and Chicago. Both are open 24 hours and a cupcake costs $4.
Bread in Paris is no joke, and now you can get it at any time of day with this baguette vending machine. The bread is partially cooked before being put in the vending machine, and then it finishes baking per order and costs approximately $1.30.
Spotted: burger vending machine in Moscow’s sheremetyevo international airport. Never miss your plane again!
From this rice vending machine in Himeji, Japan, you can get a 22-pound bag of rice for between $30-$40 depending on the variety (there are eight different kinds).
For $2, Leon’s Grill vending machine will warm a hot dog and bun then give it to you.
Mmmm hmmmm. It’ll cost you $12 per pint.
There is one vending machine for every 23 people in Japan according to the country’s Vending Machine Manufacturers Association. This one in Osaka dispenses hot food like fried chicken, squid balls, and fish fillet.
In Cedar Creek, Texas you can buy a baked pecan pie from Berdoll Pecan Farm for $17.50 right outside its retail store.
Fast food is faster in Amsterdam with FEBO, a chain Automat that dispenses food through a vending machine. The menu includes things like croquettes stuffed with veal or beef. Everything at this restaurant costs less than $10.
For $4 you can get a cute little can of bread from this vending machine in Japan. Flavors include chocolate chip, coffee, and fruit.
These No Longer Exist But Are Worth Mentioning
Moo Bella was a touch screen vending machine that provided freshly scooped ice cream and mix-ins producing 96 different combinations to choose from.
Tinoco’s Bistro in Las Vegas (now closed) had a live lobster claw outside the restaurant where you could put $2 in and try your luck for dinner. If you actually got a lobster, the restaurant would cook it for you free of charge.
Automats — restaurants that serve food out of vending machines — were all the rage in 20th century America until about the 1980s or so. A spot called “Bamn” in NYC’s East Village tried to revive the trend in 2006; it was short lived and closed by 2009. Pictured above, it served mostly sandwiches and burgers.