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Vending Machines of the Future, Today

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Vending machines have come a long way over the past thousand years. The earliest versions were designed to dispense holy water. Hundreds of years later, vending machines offering tobacco began to appear in pubs across England. Over time, their usages have morphed and changed to meet the needs of the populace. Today, the vast majority of vending machines peppering the U.S. serve up soft drinks, snacks, newspapers, and toiletries.

The plain, simple soda machine has had its run as king of the vending machines. Today’s consumer is more sophisticated and demands much more from his or her vending machine in terms of selection and product quality. We are quickly speeding at full throttle towards a future where retail service provided by living, breathing human beings has become obsolete. 

Japan has long been at the forefront of vending machine technology, but other countries around the world, including the U.S., are developing novel, game-changing vending machines at an incredible rate.

Behold:  Vending machines of the future, today!

Burritos

Ever wish you could grab a burrito at 3 AM? What’s that? You can, but it requires you to speak a restaurant server or wait in a line somewhere? What if there was a way you could just grab your burrito, pay, and go without all the formalities? Well now, there is.

The BurritoBox was introduced in Los Angeles, CA, earlier this year. Depending on the success of the initial installations, the company has plans to spread out to other parts of the country.

Pizza

Maybe pizza is your late-night snack of choice. Surely you’ll have to find a pizzeria that’s open late for delivery or that offers single slices for purchase, right? Not if you’re lucky enough to stumble upon a Let’s Pizza machine.

The Let’s Pizza machine was initially developed by an Italian company. Today, their machines are located in Italy and the UK, with plans to expand to the U.S. in the near future. 

Salads

A burrito sounds great, and pizza sounds even better, but you’re trying to watch what you eat. How about a salad instead?  Surely you’ll need to speak with someone in order to get a fresh salad in the middle of the night.

The Farmer’s Fridge kiosk in Chicago may not be open 24 hours a day, but it’s certainly a huge step in the right direction when it comes to healthy vending machine options. The machine’s stock is replenished early each morning, and older salads are offered at a discounted price in the evening.

Cupcakes

Care for dessert, but in the mood for something a bit more sophisticated than a candy bar or a bag of potato chips? How about a cupcake instead?

Sprinkles Cupcakes has begun rolling out cupcake ATM in a few select locations across the U.S.  While they’re currently available in fewer than ten cities, the company is planning on opening additional ATMs in the future.

Books

The Espresso Book Machine offers customers over half a million books to select from. Once users select their book, the machine prints a hard copy at a rate of close to 100 pages per minute, binds it, and it delivers it to the customer with a full-color cover, still warm from the process. 

Gold

Today, you can purchase gold bars with cash or your credit card using the Gold to Go machine. The machines are designed for investors who want a physical product immediately, and outlets are currently located in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, the United Arab Emirates, Peru, Columbia, and the United States.

Beer

Self-service beer-dispensing vending machines have been in place in countries like Japan for several years, but their adoption by U.S. retailers has been somewhat slower. Their appearance at this year’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game may be an indicator that the tides are turning, and alcohol-dispensing vending machines may start popping up in more locations throughout the U.S. in the near future.

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