Vending machines have become commonplace in our lives, and where would we be without them? From candy vending machines to soda vending machines and everything in between we truly are spoiled for choice.
Taking a trip around the world, maybe even your own country will reveal a wide variety of machines of all shapes and colors. Anyway, enough introduction let's get stuck in shall we?
The following are in no particular order and we apologize in advance for the apparent lunacy of some of them. We did enclose the adjective interesting in speech marks so consider that a caveat of sorts. The first entry certainly is, as for the others we'll leave that "in the eye of the beholder". A lot is included for the unique contents they dispense, you'll see what we mean. Enjoy.
1. The very first vending machines
Probably a good place to start. According to historians, the very first vending machine was produced in the 1st Century CE. Simply trading a golden coin dispensed some holy water for your very own personal use. This device has been attributed to Hero of Alexandria and worked by the coin hitting a metal level that releases a stop in a container. The water pours until the coin fell off the lever. Simple yet effective and around 2000 years ahead of its time. That's actually pretty incredible, to be honest.
2. Calvin Klein underwear vendor
Well, a male underwear dispenser. Quite how you would find yourself in a situation where you would need one of these vending machines does defy logic somewhat. But who are we to judge!
3. Crab on demand vending machines
When we first saw this vending machine we thought it might be some kind of Alien merchandise vending machine, but no we were wrong.
Yes, this machine dispenses crabs for your delectation. No, the crabs aren't dead, they are kept alive at around 5 degrees Celcius. Grab your own very cold living crab for between $1.50 and $7.
4. Milk vending machines
Yeah I know, I thought it was just a neat addition to Fallout 4. No, they really exist. Pop over to France and find some for yourself. They are made and distributed by Direct Lait or Lait Cru. They sell fresh milk for about $1.30 a liter.
Apparently, some even come with cow sound effects to immerse you in the experience. Absolutely brilliant to be honest.
5. Rhinoceros beetle vending machines
For as little as 100 Yen you can get your hands on your very own Rhino beetle. Low maintenance pets or potential money making gladiator, the beetle's future is in your hands. What the hell did I just say? What?
6. Gold on demand vending machines
Three guesses where you'll find these? Wow first time, yes the United Arab Emirates. If you fancy staying at the Abu Dubai Hotel and have some loose change why not treat yourself to some gold. The machine checks the value of gold every ten seconds and dispenses bars or coins of up to 10 grams.
7. Lettuce vending machines
In good ol' Japan they've future-proofed their salad needs with this vending machine. Called the Chef's farm this vendor, developed by Dentsu, can grow 60 heads of lettuce each day. It's aimed more towards restaurants rather than general consumers but it's pretty cool nonetheless.
8. Tie vending machines
Hey, why not? Want a tie with those batteries, memory cards, and disposable cameras? Whatever, when in Japan.
9. Bra vending machines
Um, ok. Thanks, Japan (again). Not sure what more to say really.
10. Vending machines for eggs
Back to Japan, these guys seem to love stuff on demand. You would be right in thinking that eggs are probably far too delicate to be dispensed in a vending machine. Traditional ones yes, but this one lets you pick them from compartments that you open to get your hands on your prize. Good effort.
11. Hot dog vending machines
This one is a bit odd. Aren't hot dogs pretty quick anyway from a street vendor? Oh well, in the US LHD Vending systems have created the HD300 hot dog vending machine. This piece of kit delivers a hot dog and a bun under one minute. How could you resist?
12. Live bait vending machines
From worms to flies this vending machine is a fisherman's best friend. Live bait is chilled and ready for sacrifice in the jaws of your intended prey.
Um, a bit dark sorry. Oh is that a pun too? Nice.
13. Contraceptives/Pregnancy test vending machines
Well, the title pretty much sums this one up, to be honest. One college in Pennsylvania, US installed one of these vending machines, because, you know, students.
To be serious for a moment, it's actually been proven to be a great success. To be fair condoms have been in vending machines for many years, any man can attest to this but this all-in-one stop is pretty useful for "family planning".
14. Toilet paper vending machines
Ok, what the hell? Isn't an unlimited supply a given in public toilets? Apparently not in Japan.
15. Pizza from a vending machine!
Blimey, what have we here? As if ordering a pizza wasn't easy enough why not try to burn some calories by collecting yours from a vending machine in Italy?
Apparently made from fresh ingredients this machine dispenses your pizza in under three minutes.
16. Fried food vending machines
Yes, you've guessed it back to Japan. Fried food is pretty easy to get your hands on generally but apparently, there is a market in Japan. Horses for courses.
Hey, why the hell not? Enough said.
18. More fried food brought to you by Tyson Foods
Tyson is a name synonymous with chicken products in the US. The natural progression is obviously to provide their product from a vending machine. Shut up and take my money!
19. French fries
Off we pop to Canada, for a change. Apparently, the Canadians love their french fries.
This vending machine fills the void for those times you just need fries! Probably great for late nights out and you only need to wait about 45 seconds. Handy.
20. Rice vending machines
Alright, we aren't trying to pick on Japan. Look let's be clear the Japanese might just be the most prolific vending machine creators of all time. Just check out this beauty. You have the choice between polished and unpolished rice. At a price.
21. Mashed potato vending machines
Look, mashed potato is not a hard thing to make. From dedicated products to street vendors you can make this pretty easily at home. We get it, you could be out of ingredients or not be bothered so there might be a market for this kind of thing.
Head over to Singapore and part ways with your hard earned dosh for a cup of instant mash, Seriously why?
22. Booze vending machines
Oh, thank goodness. Yes, please! Perhaps you have an addiction for mini bars in hotels and find yourself stuck in your home city. Maybe the shops are all closed and you want to continue the party.
Here is your answer. This is truly inspired. Ok, we've misled you a little bit, these machines are closed between 11 PM and 6 AM in Japan. Dammit, just stock up beforehand, or control yourself.
Apologies in advance for the music.
23. Canned bread vending machines
Yes back to Japan, what? Apparently, canned bread is very popular in the land of the Samurai. It has been a favored snack item for many years and now you can get some from a vending machine. They come in a variety of flavors, including chocolate and coffee.
Yum, yum and eh? Please, any Japanese readers enlighten us.
24. Kosher food dispenser
Yeah or Nay? Is food cooked and dispensed from a vending machine "kosher"?
Who cares, grab yourself some.
25. Burger vending machines
How now brown cow! Burgers from a vending machine did you say? The sheer brilliance of this idea cannot be understated. Finding a burger "joint", not that kind, late at night can be a real "first world problem". Worry no more with these fantastic vending machines.
Nom nom etc. Or just go home and contemplate what the hell you were thinking. Just a suggestion.
26. Diaper/Nappy vending machines
Yes, yes yes! If you are a parent you'll know the "pain" of diaper/nappy emergencies. These vending machines come stocked with everything you'll need to clean up.
27. Caviar vending machines
We bet you didn't expect that one! Yes, fine dining and convenience collide with the ultimate in niche vending machines.
Why bother going to a plush restaurant when you can get some caviar on the go. Who could resist? Well I could, I can't stand this stuff.
28. Weed vending machines
Do what now? You can get medically prescribed marijuana from these bad boys. You need to be over 21 and have a valid medical prescription to use it.
Once you have those sorted you can choose from a variety of products, such as brownies. All are vacuum packed for pot perfection. OK then.
29. Pornography vending machines
Yep. Becuase buying them off the shelf is far too much effort. These machines come with modesty curtains to hide the images during the day. At night through the curtains open to reveal its tantalizing products.
Not sure what else to say here really. Can you guess where you'll find it?
30. Banana vending machines
Looks like we can't actually leave Japan just yet. At a train station in Tokyo, you can get your hands on some bananas from a vending machine. They come as single bananas or bunches depending on your appetite. They are more expensive than from a grocery but you are paying for the convenience.
31. Farm products - Eggs, Milk and Cheese
Farmers around the world have decided to circumvent selling door to door by sticking their wares in vending machines. To be fair that's a pretty awesome idea.
You get to support your local farmers and have the convenience of fresh farm products at the press of a button. Nice.
32. Baguette vending machines
Let's travel to Paris now shall we? The French love their bread and baguettes are practically sacrosanct. This vending machine is stocked with part baked loaves which are then finished to perfection on demand. Fantastic!
33. Draft beer vending machines
Wow, just wow! This is the greatest idea we have ever seen.
A lot of the vending machines in Japan seem ludicrous to most of us, but we are confident everyone would approve of this one.
It's not the cheapest, at around $12 a pint, but a price worth paying for this fantastic idea!
34. Lobster vending machines
Want some lobster with that caviar? Why not head over to Las Vegas and bag yourself one.
Sadly the Tinoco's Bistro is now closed but the vending machine, though technically more of a gambling machine, is a neat idea. As the slogan states on the front "You Catch 'Em, We Cook 'Em!".
Not sure whether that's a little sadistic or not. The idea was that you take your chances and try to grab a live lobster. If you succeed they would cook it for free! Seems a fair trade, except for the lobsters.
Reminds us of that scene in War of the Worlds. You know the one.
35. Noodle vending machines
Oh yes. No list of this kind would be complete without some reference to noodles! If you're out and about and away from your kettle, you could stop buying one of these and grab yourself some ramen.
These vending machines in Japan dispense a hot bowl of noodles complete with meat and veggies!
36. Lego Vending Machines
Oh my, absolutely fantastic. Though, as usual, what is so difficult with popping into a toy shop to get some?
These have been spotted in German train stations but why can't I find one in the UK? Lego needs to explain themselves!
37. DIY toys
Hot on the heels of Lego, you can build your very own toy with this great vending machine.
A collaboration between Squibbles Ink and Rotofugi toys. This machine in Chicago lets you build your very own unique toy.
38. Fantastic Delites
If you are willing to perform tasks on the machine you'll be rewarded with free Fantastic Delites crackers.
Seems a fair trade, why the hell not.
39. Stray dog and cat feeder
To Istanbul, Turkey now. The city has a lot of stray cats and dogs and feeding them can be a bit of an issue.
These vending machines let you deposit empty plastic bottles that dispense food for the strays.
That's a brilliant idea. Two birds with one stone.
40. Wine vending machines
Since we included beer it's only fair we service the wine lovers out there. Don't bother going to an off-license, leave behind that shopping trolley and queues, head straight for your nearest wine vending machine. These babies were first introduced in Pennsylvania in 2010.
Marvelous and bottoms up!
41. Umbrella vending machines
Don't worry if you've left your umbrella at home when in Hong Kong. If you ever get caught in the rain without one just find one of these bad boys.
Exchange cash for a rain shield!
Not too shabby. Off you pop.
There is nothing worse than having to physically go to a bookshop or library, pick one up and carry it all the way to the counter.
What a pain.
Why not just cut out a lot of unnecessary work, head over to the vending machine and do it all within a few meters. No small talk just pure book purchase.
43. Used book vending machines
New books or library books, not your thing?
This vending machine in Canada helps promote reading by letting you choose one or deposit one at your leisure. Better than letting them gather dust on your bookshelf.
Ah, go on.
Well now, what have we here? This vending machine in New York lets you trade items with other users. It could be anything and relies on an honor system to make sure you are not abusing it.
There is a flag system to report misuse, however. The company behind the machine say they want to "shift culture away from an emphasis on unconscious consumption,".
45. Rental bike vending machines
Well, well. We suppose this was probably inevitable. Head over to Holland to take advantage of this convenient transport vending machine. The machine lets you rent the bike from one end and return to the other. Pretty ingenious.
46. Last minute gifts
You can find these beauties at JFK Airport in New York. We've all been there, there is a big event and you've not found the time to get your hands on a present. This is a very handy machine for super-last-minute shopping just before you board your plane.
You can get anything from sunglasses to cameras even beats headphones!
47. Medical Masks
Pop over to Taiwan and you can buy medical face masks from these vending machines. As you can imagine they were very popular during the bird flu outbreak a few years back.
48. Manned "Vending Machine"
Um, what? Isn't the whole point of a vending machine to have it all automated? Put some money into this baby and a real person will hand you some candy.
You'll find these bad boys in Tokyo and given the number of vending machines in Japan we can sort of see the appeal. Sort of.
Last on our list is this interesting vending machine in the UK. You can exchange "real" money for bitcoin here. It opened for business in a cafe near "Silicon Roundabout" tech hub in the East of London in March 2014. This is actually a pretty cool idea if you like this sort of thing. Certainly one of the more unique ones here.
Technically speaking this is more of an ATM but you get the idea.
So there you go. Our list of 49 "interesting" vending machines around the world. The wide variety of items you can get out of a vending machine beggars belief.
This list also begs the question why are the Japanese so obsessed with vending machines? Curious indeed.
Perhaps the following video will give some insight?
Well, that clears it up, well a bit. Anyway, for the rest of us, we couldn't imagine going about our days without either using one or at least having the option to use one. Some of these are pure genius, others a bit odd. In any case which ones are your favorite? We are torn between the beer and junk for pet food vending machines.