There are 5.52 million vending machines in Japan. That’s basically double the amount of people living in Toronto.
This culture of convenience dates back to the 1600s when coin operated machines dispensed tobacco in taverns in England. Since then, vending machine culture has come a long, long way. The vending machines of today are not your ordinary coin-operated potato chips and cola dispensers. Some offer hair, gold, dog food, even live animals.
Here are 10 some of the more eclectic, bizarre and G-rated vending machines around the world from Abu Dhabi to Japan.
1. Gold (Abu Dhabi)
Dubbed “the gold ATM,” roughly 20 such dispensers are throughout the world. The bars are available in obviously extremely small sizes (1 to 10 grams) with boxes of gold coins also available. Although the original was created in Germany, there are plans to install 500 such machines internationally.
2. Milk (London)
Steve Hook (pictured) had a hand in placing these organic milk dispensers in British stores a few years ago. However it remains a controversial machine as seen by the “health warning” on it. A 2014 article in the Wall Street Journal reported there are roughly 1300 similar machines in Italy alone.
3. Dog Food (Turkey)
An incredibly novel idea in Turkey! Simply place an empty plastic water bottle in the slot and watch dog food and water dispense into two sections on the side of the machine. Dogs are pleased as it’s free food, dog walkers are pleased as it saves them from lugging treats/water around and it’s eco-friendly!
4. Someone else’s stuff (Brooklyn)
Donate, trade or receive a random item using the Swap-O-Matic. No money is needed. Just simply exchanging or donating goods. One man’s trash is possibly another’s treasure after all.
5. Pizza & Paninis (Paris)
Hot slices of pizza or panini are sold through these machines in France. We’re not sure if you can purchase an entire pizza but regardless it’s something that would catch your eye and stomach! Bon appetite!
6. Salad (Chicago)
The vending machine’s site states it the produce/salads are made fresh daily and put in the kiosk madeof “reclaimed wood” by 10 a.m. each weekday morning. Plenty of options, plenty of nutrition.
7. Caviar (Beverly Hills)
If needing a fix of caviar, try this machine in Century City, California. The machine sells caviar from $30 (American Black Caviar) to $500 an ounce (Imperial River Beluga).
8. Lemonade that changes prices based on temperature (Spain)
In 2013 this product became known for all the right reasons. Coca-Cola created vending machines selling lemonade but tied the price into the temperature: the hotter it got the cheaper the lemonade!
9. Hair extensions (Philadelphia)
A Philadelphia businessman created this machine in 2014 selling “bundles of hair” and it seems to haveworked. Bundles retail from between $65 to $200 a pack. Each pack is only good for about one-third of one’s head.
10. Lobster (Japan)
In North America you would win plush toys. In Japan steer your way into nabbing a lobster using an overhead claw. Logistically I’d much rather lose than win at this game of, er, skill.
(Photo by Nicholas Jones via Flickr)