Coin-operated vending machines were invented by Percival Everitt in 1883 and got their start in London in the late 1800s. Those first machines dispensed postcards, envelopes and notepaper and were widely seen in train stations and post offices.
In years past, we used our quarters to buy Cokes and candy bars. Vending machines were a convenient way to snag a quick snack or drink. There wasn’t much variety – in fact, I could probably draw a picture of one from my late childhood/early adulthood and get the snacks mostly right!
Boy, have things changed. A few years ago, I was astonished to see vending machines in the Gaylord Hotel in Texas selling expensive electronic equipment – spending a dollar or two for a quick snack seemed a long way away from dropping $200 for something you couldn’t lay your hands on until after purchase. And that’s not all you can purchase….how about….
So why are we seeing more “exotic” vending machine offerings? For one thing, we’re all about convenience and instant gratification these days – no waiting! And, we want fun experiences, we savor the unusual, we need that “water cooler” conversation topic. And technology has advanced to the point that keeping products fresh, cool, and even cooking them in the vending machine itself can be accomplished.
What’s coming? According to Forbes Magazine, we can expect to see several trends in vending machines. Healthier food options are becoming more popular, particular in schools, as awareness increases about the “obesity” epidemic in the U.S. We might see vending machines that will prepare and cook our food for us (Star Trek replicator, anyone?) and vending machines that allow us to place our order online or through a mobile app or even Twitter!)
What would you like to see in a vending machine?