Forget potato chips, candies, and sodas — some people will really put anything in a vending machine. Lately we’ve been seeing some interesting takes on the parochial vending machine fare. Starbucks has vending machines for the office (for those really, really urgent caffeine fixes), and then there’s the cupcake vending machine, or “cupcake ATM”, from Sprinkles. Unusual, yes, but it’s still a fun and fresh idea. Then there are some vending machines around the world that might be taking that “fresh” concept a little bit too far.
Ever had a hankering for fresh eggs but didn’t want to go to the market to get them? Well, if you’re in Japan you’re in luck… you can get farm fresh eggs (that were hatched that morning) from your local egg vending machine. The concept has been so popular that the odd farmer in Europe and Ireland has also started using it to sell eggs direct to the public.
Also in Japan you can get fried foods like French fries, burgers, and chicken nuggets from a vending machine. And, not to be outdone, in China you can get live crabs out of a vending machine.
Japan is the undisputed King of strange vending machine items, and it’s easy to understand why: the country has clocked more than 5.6 million vending machines, one for every twenty people. That’s the highest number of vending machine per capita of any country in the world. Not only can you get all manner of unusual food items in vending machines across the country, but you can also get your hands on machines offering bicycles, silk ties, and shoes. Even more conventional items like Coca-Cola get a revamp with a walking robotic vending machine that strolls around the city.
But vending machines don’t need to follow you around to qualify as strange — we’ve taken a look at some of the more interesting fare on offer in vending machines around the world, from the unexpected to the curious and on to the downright questionable. Click through the slideshow to see how many you might try.
Live Lobster — Japan, USA
This takes “pick your own lobster” to a whole new level. The “Sub Marine Catcher” (also known as the “Maine Lobster Game” in New England, where the game was imported to and is quite popular) is apparently equal parts entertainment and dining: for a few dollars extra per cast, customers can try to catch their own dinner in a challenging game much like you would find in an arcade, complete with all the bells and whistles and a dinky robotic claw. PETA is not amused.
Freshly Baked Bread — France
French baker Jean-Louis Hecht believes everyone with a Euro coin should be able to get their hands on a piping hot baguette on demand, so he’s invented a baguette vending machine that can take pre-cooked loaves and turn them into freshly baked baguettes in seconds. Currently these machines are just in Paris and the northeastern town of Hornbourg-Haut, but they’re already selling up to 4,500 loaves per month, so Hecht has plans to expand the concept through Europe.
Serusha Govender the The Daily Meal's Travel Editor. Follow her on Twitter @SerushaGovender