Here in the US, we are pretty used to seeing vending machines just about everywhere we go. They show up in malls, schools and, oddly enough, outside of superstores. Although there are a few non-traditional machines such as iPod and Best Buy versions, for the most part it’s usually soda and candy that we run across.
The same cannot be said for our friends across the water in Japan, who have embraced the vending machine like no other nation in the world. The figures are as crazy as the products available with estimates showing that there is 1 vending machine for every 20 people in Japan. With that many machines out there, you have to believe that there will be some odd ones, and you would be right.
I don’t know about you, but I have, on more than one occasion, walked out of the supermarket having left a shopping bag on the carousel. That bag almost always has eggs in it, but in Japan that problem is solved by picking up your farm fresh eggs from a machine.
Most of us use vending machines as a way to grab a quick salty or chocolaty snack, but in Japan you can actually grab yourself a hot meal of Ramen noodles, right out of the machine. I actually think these would work here, especially in college campuses where most kids survive on Ramen.
Speaking of college dorms, another combination that would fit right in on campus are energy drinks and condoms. This pairing shows up side by side quite a bit, and is either a stroke of marketing genius or a funny mistake, either way, grab one of each, just in case.
Beer machines (campus again!!) are also very common in Japan, as are other sorts of booze, but it makes you wonder how those would work in the US states that ban Sunday beer sales. An even bigger issue over here would be the porn machines that are very popular in Japan, but to their credit, the machines have curtains that cover the goods during the day, but I think the huge, flashing porn sign would still be a giveaway.
There are countless other oddities that you wouldn’t expect to find in a machine; everything from live bait to toilet paper to rhinoceros beetles, and all points in between. In doing the research for this article, I was pretty sure I had run across everything odd I would ever expect to find, but then came la piece de resistance; used schoolgirl panties. Once believed to be a bit of an urban myth, the truth is that they do exist, and there are photographs online to prove it.
We are a modest bunch here in the US, and 99% of those strange ones will never make it here, but I do see a market for some, so keep scanning the walls of your local mall, because you never know what’s going to show up in a vending machine next.