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Vending Machines

Updated on December 10, 2016

What is a Vending Machine?

A vending machine is a coin operated automatic dispensing machine for cigarettes, candy, soft drinks, ice cream or other small consumer goods. In some units, such as cigarette or candy machines, pulling the correct selector rod releases the package into an access slot.

Other machine's, particularly those dispensing food, have small compartments, the door flaps which can be opened after the correct amount of money has been inserted and accepted.

Image supplied by me

Facebook's Vending Machines

Sprinkles fully automated cupcake ATM - Open 24 hours a day!

Read more about the cupcake vending machine here.

Worlds Largest Vending Machine

How It Works

The dispenser is usually triggered by a complicated linkage system which is normally locked by a pin. This pin is displaced by the correct number of coins, thus permitting the selector rod to travel the full distance and actuate the linkage.

In electric vending machines the linkage may be replaced by a series of switches which are actuated through a coin-triggered microswitch. When a specific selection is made, a locking mechanism prevents the simultaneous operation of the other selectors.

Japan's love affair with Vending Machines

Second Part at bottom of lens

Coin Tester

An important feature of such automatic machines is the coin tester which rejects counterfeit or defective coins before they can enter the release compartment. The size of the coin slot limits the size of the coins which can be inserted. The coins normally roll down a chute to a checking system for weight, diameter and thickness.

In many machines the coin then rolls down an incline past a strong permanent magnet, where its speed is correctly retarded by the magnetic field if it is of the correct alloy composition. If the coin also has the right mass it will have just the right amount of kinetic energy to rebound from a plate and to jump over a final rejection pin before proceeding to the release mechanism.

A coin found to be irregular at any stage of the testing procedure is rejected and discharged through a return slot.

iPod Vending

There are more than 2,651,800 beverage vending machines in Japan

T-Shirt Vending Machines

Every time I have seen a T-shirt for sale, its folded nicely in piles. What if you sold them differently? Perhaps instead of in a store, through a vending machine?

"Newly opened UNIQLO UT in Tokyo's Harajuku district an intriguing one indeed, as the combination of a nationally well-known brand and an especially novel new shop means its immediate success is guaranteed.

But as it only sells T-shirts, will the fact that they are served tucked up in tubes rather than fastidiously folded on shelves be enough to hold the attention of the capital's consumers in the long term?"

Do you like the idea? Is it a boom or a bust?


Sock Vending Machine

Sock Vending Machine
Sock Vending Machine

Historical Background

Coin-in-the-slot vending machines dispensing tobacco appeared in English inns in 1655. The coin opened a locked tobacco box, but the lid did not close again automatically. IT wasn't until 1867 when a the thief-proof design was patented by a German, Carl Ade, in 1867. But the first successful machine was devised by an Englishman, Percival Everett in 1883.

The fruit machine, or slot machine for gambling, was introduced in the USA in 1889. Slot machines spread rapidly from about the same time, dispensing a great variety of goods and services from metered gas, electricity and telephone calls to insurance policies, divorce papers and even doctors degrees.

Coin-testing devices - to prevent the mechanism from being operated by the wrong coins - were introduced from around 1931.

Mondrian Hotel has cars for sale in world's biggest vending machine

Don't you hate it when you get to a hotel and realise you've forgotten your toothbrush, shampoo, designer dress or muscle car?

The Associated Press reports the Mondrian Hotel in South Beach, Miami, has installed a vending machine in the lobby for hotel guests who've forgotten something.

Customers can purchase items priced from $10 to $1.2 million, including a Jean Paul Gaultier dress, a 1965 Corvette, a 2000 Bentley Azure convertible or a penthouse condo.

Although the machine is large, it doesn’t actually contain the larger items. For those you have to see the front desk after paying a non-refundable $1500 deposit.

Front desk manager James A. Bryant III said the "in your face gift shop" matches the "really sort of brash and out there" nature of the hotel.

The item description for a $90,000 luxury car reads: "When admirers ask where you bought your 2003 Bentley Arnage T, we dare you to say you bought it from a vending machine".


Get Your Own

On average, 13 people die per year from vending machines falling on them.

Hot pizza!

Hot pizza!
Hot pizza!

Vending machines with the Midas touch that dispense gold bars - By Mail Foreign Service, 18th June 2009

Those looking for a solid investment in these uncertain economic times should consider a trip to Frankfurt Airport.

The Germans have fitted it out with a special vending machine - which dispenses pure gold.

TG- Gold-Super-Markt is the first such machine in the world and made its debut this week at Terminal 1.

A prototype Gold to Go machine yesterday doled out a 1g wafer of gold for 30, a 10g bar for 245, or gold coins.

The products come in presentation packs with a certificate of authenticity.

A computer inside the machine is linked to the Frankfurt gold market and updates the price every few minutes according to the fluctuating price of the precious metal.

But the price will always be about 30 per cent higher than the market rate on any given day.

The machine has been designed by TG-Gold-Super-Markt, in Stuttgart, which hopes to exploit growing interest in gold prompted by the recession.

Interest in buying the precious metal has soared as the economy plunged. It is traditionally viewed as a safe investment, particularly in Germany.

Directors intend to roll the machine out to 500 locations across the country, including train stations and airports.

Thomas Geissler, who owns the company, said: 'German investors have always preferred to hold a lot of personal wealth in gold, for historical reasons. They have twice lost everything.

'Gold is a good thing to have in your pocket in uncertain times.'

The Gold to Go machine has numerous security features to prevent theft, including a camera which also monitors transactions by each individual for money laundering controls.

Juergen Kienast, a Hamburg lawyer flying back to his home city from Frankfurt, was happy to pay just over 200 for a 10 gram chunk of gold, saying: 'The price might go through the roof by the time I land. I figure that in a year’s time I will have recouped my money anyway.'

Investment banker Jens Willenbockel, who saw the prototype machine, said: 'Because of the crisis there is a lot of awareness of gold.

'It is also a great gift for children - for them getting gold is like a fairytale.'

In 2008, retail demand for gold stood at 108 tonnes, up from 36 tonnes in 2007 and 28 tonnes in 2006.

Demand for gold in Germany is extraordinarily high among ordinary people and there is often a waiting list at banks and brokerages to get some.

Gold to Go is not the first unusual vending machine to launch this year.

In April, the Mondrian South Beach Hotel, in Miami, unveiled the Semi Automatic.

It sells everything from a Bentley convertible to a Jean Paul Gaultier dress - or a set of 24 carat gold handcuffs.


Vending for a Cause!

Vending Machine Picks And Chooses Its Customers

Let's say you had a sweet dessert that you wanted to market specifically to adults. Now to spice things up, let's say you're also a Scooby Doo villain and can't stop wringing your hands over all the "meddling kids" who are going to ruin your campaign trying to steal delicious treats from your intended audience. Well, what can you do about it? Make a vending machine that detects the age of its users and tells any approaching children to get lost? Apparently yes, as Kraft Foods has introduced a new machine that scans a person's face to determine their age and dispenses free samples of their Jell-O Temptations dessert only to adults.

Read more about it here

Hi-Tech Vending

I'd like to have a snack and a drink machine in my house. Right next to the fridge.

What sort of stuff would you like to see in a Vending Machine?

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Great Lens! I had no idea that you could have gold bars in a vending machine....tff.....

    • Sher Ritchie profile image

      Sher Ritchie 

      7 years ago

      My suggestion: A vending machine that sells baked capsicums stuffed with fetta. I'd love to have them come from a vending machine rather than having to make them myself. (Also, many Japanese vending machines say "thankyou" when you make an order; the Japanese also sell pet beetles through vending machines - but I had no idea they sold play socks too!).

    • Commandrix profile image


      7 years ago from Benson, IL

      I got a kick out of the gold bar one! I've heard of a vending machine that sells designer shoes and one that sells fresh produce, but never one that actually serves up hot pizza. I wonder how they pull that one off.Anyhow, for some reason Squidoo ate the comment I left on your Lensmaster page but thanks for your blessing on my International Space Station Lens. :)

    • profile image

      ThomasJ4 LM 

      7 years ago

      Do they seriously make pizza vending machines? That's crazy! (and good)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow! First of all cool lens!!!! Second of all... I think I've seen practically everything I would want in a vending machine before :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      nice lens, good information, thank you

    • QuirkySue profile image


      7 years ago

      Some of those things I would NEVER expect to see in a vending machine!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Vending machines have come along ways. Where would we be without them in the US?

    • cjsysreform profile image


      9 years ago

      "I'd like to have a snack and a drink machine in my house. Right next to the fridge."I believe I've actually had that thought before. Thanks for the freaky vending machine info; this would totally win my Weird Lens of the Day award, if said award existed.

    • WritingforYourW profile image


      10 years ago

      I've often thought having a vending machine route would be a cool way of building passive income--nice lens :)


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