Bizarre Vending Machines

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When I was a kid, my parents used to keep a boat in Avalon, NJ, and we'd make the long drive from the Philly area on weekends to fish, water-ski, and swat away greenflies the size of hummingbirds. But the best part of the trip was the vending machine at the local pizza joint that made all the bug bites worth it.

For a quarter you could get anything on the main racks, which included Hershey bars and Herr's potato chips (two foods we weren't allowed to eat at home), and for a dime you could get Lifesavers or a pack of Doublemint (also not allowed in the Israel household, except after Halloween). I guess the off-limits treats were part of the allure, but for me it was more about dropping the coin in and making a selection—almost as exciting as dropping a quarter in an Asteroids or Space Invaders machine. The bottom rack was always filled with what seemed like the dumbest choices to me: moustache grooming kits, nail clippers, nail filers, and travel-size toothbrush/paste kits. What a waste of a rack, thought the 10-year-old version of me.

My friend Carl was recently in Japan on his honeymoon and came back with some pictures of vending machines that blow the ones I grew up with out of the Avalon harbor. You may already know that Japan is the king of the vending machine, Yes, those are vacuum bags on the top rack.

After the jump, you'll find another one, plus a picture of the strangest of all Japanese vending machines, one that sells live lobsters (via BoingBoing!). What about you all? What's the most bizarre thing you've ever purchased or seen in a vending machine?

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November 11, 2008 - 1:18am
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