Strange and Wonderful Vending Machines

You name it, and somewhere there’s a place where you can buy it right out of a machine! Let’s take a look at some of the weirder vending machines you can stick your money into.

Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana can be purchased from a vending machine in California. Yes, you have to have a prescription. In order to use the machines, you have to have an ID card, and you’ll be fingerprinted and photographed by a security guard at the machine site. See a video report here.

Nathan’s Hot Dogs

Nathan's Famous hot dogs in Coney Island is the site of the annual July 4th hot dog eating contest. Soon, New Yorkers will be able to get the famous dogs from a vending machine! They’ll be kosher, as the machines are run by Kosher Vending Industries, which already makes kosher pizza and other items available by machine. Only selected Nathan’s locations currently sell dogs with rabbinical oversight.


The Atlanta airport is home to a Zoom Shop machine that sells iPod Minis and Shuffles, along with batteries and digital cameras. There are similar machines at other airports. Have your credit card ready, this probably doesn’t take quarters! (image credit: sbisson)

Pet Supplies

The Hey Buddy! company makes vending machines that sell dog supplies, such as dog food, leashes, flea collars, chew toys, treats, waste bag holders and refills, and purified water. Check for a location near you.

Live Bait

Fishermen get up and go earlier than bait shop owners prefer, so the idea of a live bait vending machine makes sense, even if it seems weird. In 1993, fisherman Joe Meyer converted an old sandwich machine to a bait machine and sold it to a shop owner, who now has 30 machines and sells 10,000 night crawlers every week! Bait machines are refrigerated, and the bait is sealed in plastic bags with an oxygen tablet added.

Crow Food

They don’t expect you to buy food for crows; this machine is for the crows to use! The point of the experiment is to create a device that will train crows to pick up change dropped on the ground and exchange it for peanuts, using this specially-designed vending machine. See a video here.

Pornography, Beer, and Eggs

Japan is vending machine heaven. You can get pretty much anything you like from vending machines. Sometimes a row of vending machines will replace an entire store! There are vending machines that sell pornography, bread in a can, and even fresh eggs. There are reports of fetish items still for sale in Japanese vending machines, if you know where to look.

Cigarette for Adults Only

Cigarette machines are only seen in antique stores in America these days, but they are still used in Japan, where the legal age to buy tobacco is twenty. New technology is being developed to keep underage smokers from using the machines. New machines require a “taspo” (tobacco passport) card, an ID issued by the Tobacco Institute of Japan. Manufacturer Fujitaka has another machine in development that uses face-recognition software to “see” how old the buyer is. The face recognition is around 90% accurate in judging a person’s age. It has yet to be approved for public use.

Toilet Paper

No, you don’t get to go for free everywhere. Some places still have coin-operated toilets. In Japan, you can use the facilities, but you’ll have to pay for the paper, at least in some public areas. But you might get lucky: Japanese businesses often hand out free samples as part of their advertising budget, since the individual packets have advertising printed on them.

Live Lobster Claw Game

This machine in Osaka is not exactly a vending machine -it’s a claw game! You pay your money and test your skills at catching a live lobster, which is also the prize. Have fun carrying it home!


Vending machines are so popular in Japan that they’ve been made into a popular toy, which in turn was the inspiration for these life size Coke Bots!

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Cool post! Seems people are putting everything in vending machines these days! Marijuana, phone charges, I have even seen the toliet paper vending machines.....whats next?
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