Vending machines have historically been rather sad. They provide late-night desperation snacks at hotels. A depressing, cobbled-together meal at the office (Fritos + Snickers = power lunch? Not.). Endless amounts of frustration when your dollar bill finally gets sucked in on the 14th try, only to have your oh-so-coveted Skittles get stuck in the machine, dangling in midair in perpetuity.
But good news, machine-loving foodies… Happy vending days are here again! We’ve officially entered a magical age where vending machines are a true destination, not a mere distraction. Wrap your head around these unexpected vended treats just sitting in B7 waiting eagerly for your (sometimes major) coins right now around the globe.
If your idea of mall-eats indulgence is splurging on two different dips for your soft pretzel, it’s time to aim higher. Because you can now buy caviar from vending machines to class up your retail therapy in Los Angeles. Ranging from $30 to $500 an ounce (Imperial River Beluga, anyone?), the fancy fish eggs pop out in a special insulated box that gives you three hours to get your snack home or in your stomach. As you might suspect, these particular machines come with more security than a Kardashian, so proceed with caution.
Even if you show incredible restraint at the tables in Las Vegas, prepare to leave all your money there anyway, because there is now a Champagne vending machine. No, this is not a drill. At the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, guests can buy a $20 coin at the front desk and slide that into the bubbly miracle machine to get a carefully unshaken mini bottle (roughly a glass and a half) of Moët & Chandon, complete with mini flutes to toast this breakthrough in modern science. Oh, and did we mention there’s a rosé option?
We never expected the next frontier of pizza innovation to come out of Florida, but maybe it’s a NASA-adjacency thing? Because there are three new vending machines in the Orlando area serving up fully-cooked pizzas (four-cheese, pepperoni, and Margherita, to be specific) in two minutes to folks full of curiosity and the munchies. The nine-inch pies go from refrigerator to oven in the machine before being served up on a cardboard tray. Who knew all of life’s dreams could fit on a flimsy piece of cardboard?
Why wait in line for an actual person to assemble your burrito when an orange box will do the job in far less time and spare you the human interaction? That’s right, you can now get that foil-wrapped “Mexican” standard from the Burritobox in locations around the country. The vending machine offers up breakfast and lunch/dinner burrito options, complete with optional sides of guacamole, sour cream, and hot sauce. Sadly, no margarita button yet.
With all the tech innovation running rampant in San Francisco, it’s somewhat surprising that it took a French company to introduce perhaps the tastiest technology of all to the city by the bay—vending machines that deliver warm baguettes in a mere 20 seconds. With two locations in town, the magic boxes regularly bake up partially-cooked dough throughout the day, so your finished baguette is never more than two hours old. You can even use Apple Pay to buy your daily bread, because obviously. (BYO beret, though.)
6. Pecan Pies
If you’ve been holding out for a vending machine guarded by a 14-foot-tall rodent (which we totally get), your time has finally come. Just outside of Austin, the Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Company boasts a machine stocked with full-size pecan pies—and it just happens to sit in the shadow of Ms. Pearl, the giant selfie bait squirrel. The electric box allows a few other nutty treats to join the line-up, but people come mainly for the homemade pies. OK, and the squirrel.
7. Live Crabs
Don’t you just hate it when you get a hardcore craving for live hairy crabs late at night, way after the stores are closed? The citizens of Nanjing, China, know that pain all too well, which is why they line up at the live crab vending machine that dispenses the crustaceans (along with crab vinegar and ginger tea on the side). Restocked daily during the autumn hairy crab season, the machine keeps the shellfish appropriately chilled so they’re ready to drop from the metal coil, then later be dropped right into a pot of boiling water at home. And yes, the pinching hazard is just a tad higher than with your average vending machine loot…
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