Forget chocolate bars and crisps – today’s vending machines are more like portable stores that never close, giving people access to to everything from hot food to toys and electronics.
All over the world people are adopting vending machines as a simple and convenient way to access the items they want and need most without worrying about what time the shops open and close.
Here’s our look at some of the most unusual things you can find in vending machines around the world…
Because sometimes you just need a slice! The world’s first ever pizza machine can whip up a 10.5’’ fresh pizza in just three minutes – the machine kneads the dough, layers toppings and bakes each pizza to perfection while you stand and wait. This portable pizzeria offers a choice of four different pizzas and is already a huge hit around Europe and especially in Italy.
One of the most popular bakeries in the United States needed a way to keep up with demand for their delicious, fresh cupcakes, and came up with a unique solution: the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM. This cupcake vending machine offers fresh treats 24/7 with just the swipe of a credit card, and received such a positive response that it’s now available in 12 locations around the country, including New York City.
A vending machine in China is literally redefining the meaning of fresh food with its unique offering: live crabs. The white hairy crab is a popular delicacy during China’s mid-autumn festival, prized for its sweet taste. In the eastern province of Zhejiang, a series of vending machines near the subway station on Hangzhou street offer up the live crabs for 20 RMB – around £2. Each comes with crab vinegar and two bags of ginger tea for optimum snacking.
Need a little bling at a moment’s notice? The Gold to Go vending machine offers instant access to solid gold in the form of bars, coins and even jewellery. A computer inside the machine updates prices every ten minutes to reflect market value, and is monitored by armoured guards to keep its contents secure. When the first machine arrived at Dubai Mall in 2010 it was so popular that it needed to be restocked twice a week to keep up with demand.
Forget picking up a carton from your local corner store – if you want raw, unpasteurised milk the best way to get it is from a milk vending machine. These machines are less futuristic than you might think – they are already popular around Europe and have even been trialled by farmers in the UK. Once a day a local farmer will fill the refrigerated vending machine with fresh milk straight from his farm. Then, all visitors need to do is visit the machine, deposit a few coins and then fill up their jug to take home.
While luxury isn’t a word people might typically associate with vending machines, all that is changing – the Moët & Chandon Champagne Vending Machine offers customers perfectly chilled bottles of their signature champagne for £18 each. The machines first appeared in Selfridges over Christmas 2013, offering customers a chance to skip the queue and buy the festive fizz directly from the machine instead. With capacity for 350 bottles, the party can carry on well into the night.
The upscale shopping centres of Beverly Hills have taken the concept of gourmet food to go to the next level with caviar vending machines. These amazing machines stock some of the most expensive and hard to source caviar in the world, along with other gourmet foods like River Beluga, escargot, Italian truffles, blinis, flavoured salts and mother of pearl plates. Each item comes dispensed in an insulated box, giving shoppers a window of roughly three hours to get the caviar home and into the fridge to enjoy later.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever found in a vending machine?