Around the world, 24/7 kiosks sell a variety of often strange-seeming offerings. There's a live crab vending machine in China, a lettuce machine in Japan, and a mashed potato machine in Singapore. (Yum!)
But what about in the U.S.? According to market research firm IBIS, the U.S. vending machine industry sees revenues of $7 billion annually, which isn't that difficult to imagine when you consider how widespread simple candy vending machines are. But the industry itself is expanding: Zany kiosks holding baked goods, clothing, and exercise equipment have popped up across the country.
What can you snag from your nearest vending machine? Most Americans will still have to settle for a bag of potato chips or soda, but depending on where you live, you might be able to outfit your next fishing trip or wine night via a vending machine. Here are 13 of the wildest items you can buy from American machines.
Cupcake chain Sprinkles has more than 10 cupcake ATMs across the country, the first of which opened in Beverly Hills in 2012. You select the cupcake flavor you want and swipe your credit or debit card like you would at a traditional ATM.
In 2014, Sprinkles said it was selling about 1,000 cupcakes a day at each cupcake ATM at $4.25 a pop.
How does a "freshly grilled hot dog" from a vending machine sound? In 2008, hot dog machines started popping up around the U.S., including in airports, offering hungry travelers the option of a Hillshire Farms Cheddarwurst, a Kunzler all-beef, or an Oscar Meyer hot dog, for about $3.
LHD Vending Systems machines, one of which sells Nathan's Classic Hot Dogs, uses an infrared and microwave cooking system, according to a Fox Business report. The cost of outfitting a train station, airport, or hospital with one of these vending machines? $11,000.
You don't have to wait in line at a bakery for a fresh-baked pie anymore if you live near Cedar Creek, Texas, home to one of the first pecan pie vending machines. Operated by the Berdoll Pecan Farm, the machine acts as a surrogate when the farm's store is closed (say, during your midnight pie craving?)
The pies cost around $19.50, which is in the range of prices that pies sell for at the store itself.
Pizza vending machines weren't created by Americans or even by Italians. Nope, it's the Dutch who are responsible for the "Let's Pizza" machines that create 10-inch pies for about $6. Like hot dog vending machines, the Let's Pizza machines uses an infrared oven to bake the pie after the dough is kneaded inside the metal box.
The market for bicycle vending machines is surprisingly more competitive than others. Bike Fixtation is a cyclist vending machine supplier that operates from Minnesota to New York. Riders can purchase inner tubes, patch kits, brake pads, and tire boots, among other cyclist must-haves.
Bikestock is another bike vending machine company that sells similar products and has locations in Boston and New York. Another perk of using Bikestock: a free air pump if your tires are deflated.
This Chicago wine shop is outfitted with a $25,000 wine vending machine, at which customers may sample bottles of wine before purchasing one for $55.
Another wine vending machine in Pennsylvania also allows customers to snag a bottle of vino — but is apparently loaded with high-tech security features making it a bit more cumbersome to get your hands on your precious vintage. It's more difficult to purchase alcohol in Pennsylvania because of Prohibition-era laws that keep wine sales restricted to a few vendors. But a new regulation that would expand wine sales to supermarkets, restaurants and gas stations has passed the state's legislative body and is on its way to the governor.
Others, like that of popular acne brand Proactiv—which you’d normally have to purchase online or by calling the number off the commercial—have kiosks in shopping malls around the country.
Gold to Go is a gold vending machine in a Florida mall that dispenses the commodity. According to a Talking Points Memo report, gold prices are adjusted to reflect the market price every 10 minutes, but you can only buy up to an ounce. Luckily, you can also return your gold if you’re unhappy with it.
Seattle’s grunge music scene is only out-edged by its vending machine scene, apparently. The coastal city has cannabis vending machines, though customers are still required to present valid medical marijuana cards before purchasing the product.
Once you've presented your ID to an attendant, you can purchase pot edibles and other products.
In March 2014, hardworking students on USC's campus got a little treat: A big, metal Burrito Box vending machine that dispenses “fresh” burritos for $3.75 each.
The company also has kiosks around Los Angeles area gas stations. Turns out, the time it takes to pump your gas might be longer than the time it takes to order, purchase, and start eating your burrito.
Burgers, pork chops, brats, and pork: Your local butcher’s got meat, but so does a vending machine, apparently.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Hudson Valley-based Applestone Meat Company vending machine is the latest in instant meat gratification. Instead of schlepping your own fresh meat to a sporting event or cookout, you can simply press a few buttons and have the prime cut of your choosing. As of March, two "Meat-O-Mats" are available for use to the public, while 10 others are to follow.
For owners of a fishing supplies store, a 24-hour live bait vending machine means no longer having to wake up before dawn to service early-rising fisherman. Live bait vending machines in New Jersey offer eager customers salted clams, night crawlers, and squid strips.
At a Pennsylvania gas station, you can purchase live bait “night crawlers for $3.50 a dozen or $6 for 24, placed above the minnows and mealworms."
How are you supposed to rock a pair of #MyCalvins if there’s no clothing retailer nearby? From a vending machine, evidently. The designer undies are available at various popup kiosks around the country.
If Calvin Klein briefs aren't your style, men and women alike can also purchase underwear from a “MeUndies” vending machine in Los Angeles.