Convenience has always been a life goal. People want to get more of it in everything they do, from a household chore to professional work.

Even when having some leisure activities and simple exercise, which are already more convenient than just about anything job-related, they still desire greater convenience. This is why they shop online, use Uber, buy fast food, have video conferences, and buy things from vending machines.

In the old days, vending machines are almost always for beverages like soda, bottled water, and fruit juices. They’re everywhere that you don’t have to visit an actual store and interact with anybody to buy a can of carbonated drink.

It is also convenient for companies as vending machines require no employee to record every transaction.

As time goes on and more people demand more convenience, some vending machines have new things to offer. Unusual vending machines have been on the rise all over the world. Here are some of the most difficult to ignore.

10 Live Crabs

From August to October, everybody in China is feasting on crabs. It is that time of year again when millions of people are tearing apart exoskeletons to suck up the delicacy inside, so crabs sell like hotcakes all around the country. Except, pancakes are not available in vending machines, but live crabs are.

About seven years ago, on the street in Hangzhou, something unusual came into existence; a vending machine that sold live crabs. It was restocked daily along with the expected accouterments such as ginger tea and vinegar.

9 Noodles

Instant cup noodles are not exactly the healthiest snack globally, but let us just say they are indeed satisfactory as an occasional alternative or addition to lunch or dinner. 

By now, you would probably think that a vending machine filled with cups of noodles is not entirely unusual, but in Japan, such a machine dispenses ready-to-eat hot ramen in about 25 seconds. Ramen is not as peculiar as live crab, but it is still a fascinating idea for a vending machine.



8 Bike Parts

With increasing awareness of pollution and climate change, many major cities worldwide have embraced the bicycling culture. Most of them are European cities like Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Paris, Oslo, and Vienna.

More cities are becoming bicycle-friendly in the United States, too, for example, New York, specifically in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

But without traditional bicycle culture and facilities to support the movement, it can get difficult to get parts. Birkenstock, a new York-based bicycle repair shop, has the solution. The company installed the first vending machine that sells bike parts in Brooklyn in 2014.

7 Jeans

A Hamburg-based jeans brand “Closed” presented its first vending machine for jeans in Florence, Italy, in 2009. The idea behind it was to install the devices in places like train stations and airports so that travelers – especially the less prepared ones – could get a new pair of jeans on the go.

It remains to be seen whether a jeans vending machine would be successful, but at the very least, it serves as an eye-catching marketing tool.

6 Salad

Some say you should avoid eating fast food of any kind because it is unhealthy. Farmer’s Fridge disagrees. The Chicago-based food company is committed to providing healthy short nutrition for all the city’s residents in the most convenient way possible, with vending machines.

The meals from Farmer’s Fridge came pre-packaged in plastic jars and placed into vending machines that are restocked daily at 10 AM. There are plenty of salad options, and all are made using organic ingredients from local farms.

5 Caviar

Three local malls in Los Angeles – Burbank Town Center, Westfield Century City, and Westfield Topanga – installed vending machines that sold caviar in November 2012. It is the brainchild of Kelly Stern, a co-owner of Beverly Hill Caviar, a gourmet food supplier in California.

The business plan was simple. The company wanted to reach customers in wealthy neighborhoods who might just crave caviar any day of the week and have the money to pay for it. All they had to do was press a button and received a dose of that fancy delicacy.

4 Wine

Pennsylvania introduced its first wine vending machine as part of a supermarket trial in July 2009.

Unlike a typical vending machine with which anybody could insert money and choose a product, this particular vending machine required the customer to swipe driver’s license, look directly into a camera, and blow into a Breathalyzer before making a purchase.

Now that seemed like many things to do in front of a vending machine, but then again, it sold alcoholic beverages, so there had to be some precautions.

3 Underwear

There can be times when you miss a laundry day and wear gym shorts as underwear or that you bumped into an incident involving dirty or torn underwear on the go.

While the likelihood of that happening to anybody is pretty slim, it is good that Calvin Klein has vending machines for you to get some fresh stocks of underwear at any moment. 

They are available in at least four countries, including the United States, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea. The vending machines sell various options for men and women.

2 Gold

The first gold vending machine installed in the United States is located in Boca Raton, Florida. Most gold ATMs serve a pretty simple purpose; they exist to convince anybody that investing in gold is a good idea.

The machine also works like any other in which customers insert money and choose the kind of product they want.

Only this time, what comes out of the device is not chocolate bars or soda, but gold bars and coins. Also, every gold ATM is reinforced with layers of security to prevent robbery.

1 Marijuana

In select California dispensaries, marijuana is now available from vending machines made by Greenstop. Every single device can serve four customers simultaneously while conforming to local regulations.

It also has an interactive screen to let customers see the available products and information about different types of cannabis.

Greenstop plans to focus first in Los Angeles, and in the future, it will install more machines all across California.

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