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7 things you didn’t know you could buy from a vending machine

December 23, 2016

A smaller version of the car vending machine. Photo: The Verge

Vending machines are no longer merely the last vestige of hope for a late night snack, or where you go for a soft drink when your train is delayed.

They are now moving with the times and providing much, much more.

Several businesses for sale now boast vending machines has part of their operations, including this eco-friendly car and dog wash.

Here are some of the weird and wonderful things that you can find in vending machines around the world.


In Houston, Texas, you can now buy a car from a vending machine. No, not toy Matchbox ones, but real, full-sized vehicles.

The glass structure is a little bigger than most vending machines. The most recent one stands eight storeys tall, stores 30 cars, and is the second to open in the state. Buyers can purchase one of the cars online, and will then receive an oversized coin which can be used at the large vending machine.

The car will then be transported automatically down to the delivery bay to the awaiting buyer.

carvendingmachine3The car vending machine. Photo: The Verge

Hot chips

Australia is proudly home to hot chip vending machines – there’s a patriotic story to tell the family.

Run by the Hot Chips Company, the machines hold frozen chips, which are placed into a deep fryer for two minutes within the machine and then delivered to the buyer’s hands.

The company spent more than five years developing the concept, and it is a step up from the stale cold crisps you’ve traditionally been able to get from the station platform.

The hot chip vending machine was pioneered by a WA-based company. Photo: Hot Chips Retail The hot chip vending machine was featured on the Today Show, on Channel 9. Photo: Hot Chips Company

Live crabs

A touch more macabre and morally challenging than hot chips, some vending machines in China stock live crabs.

With the machines having an internal temperature of about 5 degrees, the crabs are alive but in a hibernating state, and are served with vinegar and ginger tea.

The machines appear to be aimed at locals with a late-night crab craving, when shops are closed. The machines are restocked every day.

They also come with a bonus offer – if your crab turns out to be dead, you’ll get three live ones to compensate.

The crab vending machine is at a railway station in Nanjing, China. Photo: Sean Yong/Reuters The crab vending machine at a railway station in Nanjing, China. Photo: Sean Yong/Reuters


The first gold machine emerged at an Abu Dhabi hotel, but they are now at 20 sites across three continents. It was apparently an attempt to make people more familiar and comfortable with the concept of buying gold.

Storing both bars and coins, the machines can weigh up to 450 kilograms and, of course, come with a gold leaf finish. The gold price is updated hourly.

This vending machine is in the Dubai Mall. Photo: Gold to go This gold vending machine is in the Dubai Mall. Photo: Gold To Go

Healthy food

Weird as it sounds there has been a growing movement for vending machines to feature healthy foods and salads, instead of the usual junk-food snacks.

The first of these vending machines popped up at Westfield Doncaster in Melbourne, through a company called FuD. They provide a healthy meal in seconds, and even come in hip jars.

Users pick which meal they want, choose some extra proteins, and pay. Once they receive the jar, they add in the protein, drizzle on the dressing and shake it up.

With the machines restocked daily, the company also donates leftover food to the homeless of Melbourne.

The FuD machine selling salads and drinks. Photo: FuD The FuD machine sells healthy food and drinks. Photo: FuD


In keeping with the healthy movement, vending machines in Japan are being used to grow and store vegetables, including lettuce.

With 40-watt fluorescent lighting, one machine has been able to grow 20,000 lettuce heads in a year with no sunlight – that’s almost 60 a day.

The vending machines, which are aimed at restaurants and can also grow other vegetables, will set you back about $US90,000.

This machine can grow 20,000 lettuces a year. Photo: Dentu This machine can grow 20,000 lettuces a year. Photo: Dentu


Left for work and forgot your tie, or just realised that you misjudged a party’s dress code? Then this vending machine will be your saviour.

The nifty machine, which has been spotted in Japan, also sells cameras and batteries for some reason, and offers low-cost ties of varying colours and patterns.

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