12 Bizarre Items You Can Get from Vending Machines
You can get everything from toys to live crustaceans at the push of a button—if you know where to go.
Hungry for a slice of pie? Keep your eyes open for a Let's Pizza vending machine. These red contraptions turn dough, sauce, and your toppings of choice into a hot, ready-to-eat pizza in only three minutes. The machine is stocked with enough flour and tomato to make 100 pies, and they contain a miniature infrared oven that cooks the pizzas to perfection. Let's Pizza machines got their start in Italy and that's where you'll find the majority of them, but there are also quite a few in the United Kingdom and even a smattering of trial machines in the United States. Learn which foods nutritionists never get from vending machines.
Totally unrelated to pizza vending machines, this machine can dispense a full pecan pie. Located on the grounds of the Berdoll Pecan Farm in Cedar Creek, Texas, this vending machine holds jerky, bags of nuts and trail mix, and, on the bottom row, freshly made pecan pies. Berdoll's pies were so famous, and in such high demand, that the store put up a vending machine to satisfy customer cravings outside of store hours. If you go, keep in mind that, as cool as getting a pie from a vending machine might be, the pies are cheaper if you buy them right in the store.
While it may not have the largest of selections, a book vending machine still sounds like every book lover's dream. While the idea of a machine that automatically dispenses reading material has been around since the nineteenth century, the technology has had mixed success whenever it's been introduced. Airports around the world have installed them, but they've never quite taken off (airport pun intended). The machines enjoy their biggest popularity in Asia, with several Chinese and Japanese companies producing them. As a matter of fact, Japan is no stranger to unusual vending machines. Here are some other bizarre things you can only find in Japan.
Yum, instant cupcakes! These "Cupcake ATM" machines are the brainchild of a company called Sprinkles, which was already famous for their delicious baked goods and gained even more notoriety upon creating a machine that can dispense a cupcake at the push of a button. The machines are designed to look like a boring old ATM (but with a colorful flair), and they offer a great selection of flavors daily. You can find these pastel-pink machines in several different American cities, including New York, Atlanta, and Chicago. There's even one in Disney Springs in Florida!
Just like the folks at Berdoll Pecan Farm, French baker Jean-Louis Hecht found it impossible to keep up with all of his would-be customers. So in 2011, he took action, creating a machine that would dispense his specialty—fresh-baked baguettes—around the clock. The loaves are already partially cooked when they go into the machine, and when someone orders one (for only one euro), the machine heats it up so that it's ready to eat. The original machine is located in Paris, and Hecht has since opened another in the small French town of Hombourg-Haut. Here are 50 things you can get for just $1 around the world.
Yes, you read that right. You can get live crustaceans from a vending machine. In China, where Chinese mitten crabs or "hairy crabs" are considered a major delicacy, machines containing the critters can be found in several different cities. From August through October, the crabs are in such high demand in China that round-the-clock crabs are a totally profitable venture. Some of the machines are even stocked with the necessary condiments, like dipping sauce. Check out some more bizarre dining experiences you can have around the world.
Sadly, there's only one operating LEGO vending machine that we know of. But that's better than zero! This machine, which dispenses not just tiny packs but full sets of the building brick toys, makes its home in Munich, Germany's train station. It's great if you're traveling from Munich and are looking for something to keep you busy on the train.
And you thought Vegas weddings were hasty! If a big wedding just isn't for you, maybe you'll consider having a vending machine officiate your nuptials... that is, until you learn that vending machine weddings aren't actually legally official. But you do get a realistic-looking wedding "certificate"! So if you're not looking for a real wedding, but want to play an epic prank, or maybe practice before your big day to banish premarital jitters, look out for an AutoWed machine. The first-ever AutoWed resides in Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Michigan, and today you can find them in places like museums and novelty stores. Here are some more unique wedding traditions from around the world.
A dog bath
You've heard of a car wash; now how about a dog wash? Thanks to the Dog-O-Matic, you can pop your pup into a machine and have it do the dirty work for you. The work of a French entrepreneur, the Dog-O-Matic washes, rinses, and dries pets of any size in about thirty minutes. And don't worry—if your pooch is too traumatized by the process, you can safely take him or her out at any point during the cycle. Though the machine's inventor was optimistic about the machine, and claimed that it was totally safe, the Dog-O-Matic never really caught on. Many pet owners remained skeptical about the ethics of submitting their pets to such a process. Check out these weird facts you never knew about dogs.
Raise your hand if you've been caught in the rain after leaving your umbrella at home. Yeah, us too. Well, a type of vending machine called "ULA," whose machines dispense umbrellas, has been popping up lately in Hong Kong metro stations. Offering umbrellas in an array of colors, these machines keep forgetful travelers happy and dry... for about $8.50 in U.S. dollars.
Could Bikestock vending machines, which dispense bike locks, tubes, and other odds and ends for cyclists, be the bike repair shops of the future? These machines are becoming popular throughout the New York City area. In addition to bike parts, they're also stocked with snacks and drinks and even offer an air pump should you have a flat tire.
Cool, or totally over-the-top? However you feel about them, vending machines selling caviar, and other delicacies like escargot and truffles, have been a staple of a few Los Angeles malls since 2012. The co-owner of Beverly Hills Caviar financed the machines, hoping to expose a wider demographic (especially young people) to food they may never experience otherwise. So while some of the delicacies do go for upward of $500, you can also get some goodies for just $5.
If you'd rather shop for oddball items from the comfort of your home, check out these wacky objects you didn't know you could buy on Amazon.