The 6 Most Fascinating Vending Machines Ever, Definitely
The content of our vending machines is a reflection of the culture we live in -- we need these things so urgently that we built robots specifically designed to give them to us at all times. In our case, what we value the most is apparently Cheetos and diet soda, but different countries have different priorities. Hilarious, occasionally unnerving priorities.
You know that joke about how Japan has vending machines that sell "used" schoolgirl panties, for the pervert on the go? Well, two things: 1) It's not a joke; they really have those. And 2) that's not the weirdest vending machine product in the world:
Live Crabs (China)
A vending machine that spits out live crabs sounds like something you'd see right before Freddy Krueger murders you in some needlessly elaborate fashion, but it's a thing that exists in the real world too. Specifically, in China, where crabs are a popular seasonal meal. The rationale behind these machines, according to a store manager who owns one, is to assist you during those times when it's late at night, all the seafood shops are closed, and you feel the sudden urge to "chow down on a hairy crab" (actual direct quote). See, that's the difference between China and Japan; if it was the latter, you know that'd be a euphemism for something perverted. But nope, the Chinese really do get the hairy-crab munchies.
Before these machines, you had to settle for gluing cat hair on an ashtray and chewing that.
The crabs cost between $1.50 and $7.50, depending on how big and terrifying they are. And, yes, the fucking things are actually alive: The interior of the machine is kept at a temperature of 40 to 50 degrees F to convince the crabs it's winter and make them hibernate inside their small plastic prisons. As anyone who works from home knows, the fact that they sleep late and the general lack of activity will keep the animal's muscles soft and tangy -- just like your palate demands. The shock of being abruptly pushed down a metal ramp is apparently enough to jolt the poor bastards awake, though:
Pictured: the original twist ending for The Matrix.
After that, it's just a matter of declawing the crab, cracking its shell, dipping it in your favorite condiment (the machine also sells vinegar and ginger tea; no word on the BBQ sauce situation), and enjoying your snack. Which still sounds way less messy than opening a pack of Lays, come to think of it.
Crack Pipes (Canada)
You assumed all the examples in this article would be from Asia, didn't you, you racist monster? It turns out that North America is perfectly capable of putting weird shit inside vending machines too, as demonstrated by Canada's convenient crack pipe dispensers. You just insert 25 maple-syrup-flavored cents and receive a fully usable Pyrex-brand glass pipe (the discerning addict's choice of drug paraphernalia).
Remember to remove the wrapping before putting it in your mouth.
You don't know what chemicals could be there.
Shockingly, this isn't part of some edgy art installation or an initiative of Canada's Chris Farleyest mayor: The machines were installed in Vancouver by a nonprofit organization that looks out for the city's homeless and at-risk residents. Selling crack pipes in a drug rehabilitation center may seem counter-productive (not to mention grossly opportunistic), but the logic behind it is sound. Without something like this, Vancouver's crack users would be getting their pipes from the black market, where they're sold at up to $10. These exorbitant prices force the addicts to share the pipes, which can spread disease, or reuse chipped or broken pipes, which is an ingredient in a fantastic recipe for spreading HIV.
The vending machines "devalue" the product and minimize the harm, while also giving crack users the motivation to get their asses to a place where they could get another type of help.
The machines are strategically placed so that if you buy all the pipes in one location
and want more, you have to pass through the detox place.
Although there's been talk of exporting these babies to London, the Canadian government doesn't actually condone the project. The opposite of that, in fact: They've tried to shut it down. After all, can you imagine how embarrassing it would be if people started associating the Canadian authorities with smoking crack?
Anime-Themed Canned Bread (Japan)
"Bread in a can ... in a mechanical box" probably isn't the most disturbing thing that Japanese anime has inspired, but it's certainly one of the most unexpected. Just putting loaves of bread inside cans is bizarre enough, so the fact that Japan has slapped drawings of occasionally scantily clad teens on the receptacles and then placed them inside machines is like the odd-tasting frosting on top.
Bread in cans first became popular in 2006 thanks to Clannad, a partially bread-themed romance video game that spawned comics, TV shows, and ... you know, bread. The main heroine's parents operate a bakery, so the publishers decided it made sense to do this:
It never makes sense to do this, kids.
Fans said, "Yes, of course, this is a perfectly logical endeavor we should give money to," and just like that, canned bread became a thing. Today, there are several brands of canned vending machine bread offered in flavors like apple, wild grapes, or chocolate. Fun fact: If you spread Nutella on the chocolate-flavored one, your entire family gets diabetes.
And yet, as odd as it may sound, we have to admit there's something strangely ... pleasant about extracting a tightly packed circular bread from a metal container. We dare you to watch the following video in its entirety without experiencing at least one tiny little orgasm:
It's imp ... ahh ... ossible.
Real Gold (United Arab Emirates)
Say you're on your way to the lodge meeting when you realize you forgot to tell Jasper to load a few sacks of gold into the limousine. What will the chaps at the country club say? How will you summon H'laarghb'yn The Forgotten without an offering of riches to go with the 15 sacrificial virgins? Well, no longer will you have to suffer the indignity of carrying around wads of mundane, filthy cash -- not when you can simply trade it for shiny metals in the nearest Gold To Go vending machine. Whether you intend to buy 1 gram for $35 or 1 ounce for $1,100, this is a great way to get rid of that pesky pocket change.
Those quacking sounds you hear are just the tiny Scrooge McDuck
that spontaneously formed inside this thing.
After a trial run in Frankfurt, Germany, the first of these so-called gold ATMs was officially unveiled in the most opulent hotel in the United Arab Emirates in 2010, but they've since spread out to places like malls, airports, and bus terminals, some even as far as the sinister nation of Peru. The machine dispenses not only gold but also diamonds and other precious stones, but, unfortunately, you can't just jiggle it a bit in the hopes that a small fortune (or at least a Snickers bar) might fall out -- they were tested with explosives to make sure they were absolutely theft-proof.
There are also guards around them at all times to enforce that you dress
as a sheik while withdrawing the gold.
Finally, the machine is linked 24/7 to an online system that accurately reflects the price of precious metals and jewels in real time, and ... wait, does that mean this thing can get a solid Internet signal inside a hotel?! OK, now we're impressed.
Pet Rhinoceros Beetles (Japan)
Due to the realities of modern life, children these days no longer do many of the things previous generations took for granted -- wholesome traditions of yore like setting up lemonade stands, swimming in the lake, or capturing horned beetles and training them to murder each other in makeshift arenas. That last part probably applies only if you live in Japan, where adults remember the gross insects they played with in their childhoods as fondly as you recall your Fisto from He-Man action figure.
Of course, with families moving away to the city and kids generally not giving much of a shit about nature anymore, there was only one way to preserve this beloved custom: stuffing live bugs into vending machines.
They're more like Kafkaesque apartment buildings, to be honest.
Female beetles go for around $1, while males cost around three times as much because of their mighty horns, and also because the wage gap exists even in the insect kingdom. Children then train the beetles and pit them against other kids' specimens in combat or tug-of-war competitions; the objective is to be the very best, like no one ever was. To catch them is the real test. To train them is the cause.
It is imperative that you capture 'em all, is our point.
As for how the vending machine operators keep the beetles alive: Sometimes they'll put food inside their plastic containers, but that's not always necessary, because these hideous little bastards are so popular that the kids buy them all up within hours -- or at least they did back in the '90s, when that article was written. Maybe they've all moved on to something less gross by now, like playing with actual turds.
No, not toy cars. Not even fancy model cars. Actual, honest-to-God cars.
OK, fine, electric cars. But still: real cars that you can get in and drive places. The concept works just like the vending machine at your workplace and even costs around the same: You walk up to the Kandi Machine garage building in Hangzhou, China, pay a little over $3, and the mechanism serves up a 50-miles-per-hour, electric-powered vehicle that is yours for the next 60 minutes.
Or 30 minutes if Jenny from HR shows up and asks for "a little bite."
WE PAID FOR THIS, JENNY.
Once you're done, you can leave the vehicle at one of the many drop-off points and walk away hoping the next driver enjoys the fart you left bouncing around in there. The idea, incidentally, is to help combat pollution in China before the country is completely swallowed by a cloud of smog and no one sees it again. Kandi's CEO plans to expand these facilities all over China and have at least 750 such garages available in Hangzhou alone. That should cover about -0.02 percent of China's population, but still, it's a nice idea.
It's still bullshit that they don't stock Skittles, though.
Goh Zong Huan Lester is a ridiculous person with an unusual way of looking at life and is currently trying to turn his life topsy-turvy. He is also writing for PowerLahBro.com. Check his writings out and shower him with lots of love.
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