Up until very recently. When you saw a vending machine you fully expected it to hold a fine selection of candies or your favorite soda, but it would appear that the times they are a changing. We haven’t quite reached the level of Japan yet, where odd items such as eggs, umbrellas, and dirty magazines are quite commonplace in machines, but we are starting to see some very different options. It started simply enough, with DVD’s available for rent, but then Apple upped the ante with vending machines that sold iPods and accessories.
When you think of Beverly Hills, what usually comes to mind are rich celebrities and high-priced designer shops, but right now it’s cupcakes that are making the headlines there. Sprinkles, a cupcake chain store, will soon be installing a 24 hour cupcake vending machine at their Beverly Hills location. The machine itself looks like a glorious pink ATM, and it will churn out freshly baked cakes, recipes, Sprinkles apparel, and even little cupcake treats for the canine that fits in a purse. It’s a strange idea to be sure, but who hasn’t had a cupcake craving at 2 in the morning?
The vending machine strangeness seems to be centered in the Los Angeles area at the moment, and if you take a trip down Hollywood Boulevard today you might just run into a MeUndies vending machine. This is a machine that dispenses men’s undergarments for $16 a shot, and it makes you wonder what is going down in the streets of L.A. that would require men to change their underpants in the middle of the day. Apparently this vending machine is a trial run, and the plan is to expand to t-shirts, socks, and women’s undergarments in the near future, with locations in airports and hotels. At least those locations make a little more sense than the original.
What’s really weird though is how often these types of ideas turn into gold for the inventor. When you look at the billions of dollars that are spent annually in vending machines, it becomes apparent that we have a love affair with goods behind the glass. A perfect example of that is in Spain, where a local fisherman has started to stock his vending machine with fresh fish, and is laughing all the way to the bank. Sounds gross, I know, but it’s actually very smart. The fish are cleaned and fileted, and then placed in sealed containers before being placed into the vending machine, which is now doing almost as much business as the owner’s shop.
There seems to be no end to the things that people will buy out of a vending machine, and there is a certain little buzz of excitement that comes with seeing these new ones pop up. Given the success of the first one, it’s only a matter of time before fish vending machines start showing up all over the world, but I don’t think we candy lovers have to worry about them taking over completely, at least just yet.