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Mario Marsicano
10 Bizarre Things You Can Find in Vending Machines
by Mario Marsicano

Earlier this month, the Mondrian Hotel in South Beach unveiled the Semi Automatic vending machine, which dispenses 24 kt gold handcuffs, Gaultier dresses, and the keys to a 1965 Corvette convertible. You may think it’s truly unique, but in a world of bizarre vending machines, the Semi Automatic does not stand alone. Here are ten other examples.

1. Poetry

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According to their website, Gumball Poetry is a non-profit literary magazine that publishes the best poetry it can get a hold of. But they publish it differently – into gumball machines, with a suggested price of fifty cents. If you’d like your very own, they go for $300, and your first 200 poetry capsules are free. Could be the perfect thing to go next to the lamp.

2. Medical Marijuana

For over a year, Glaucoma patients in California have had a 24/7 option to cure what ails them. Marijuana AVM machines are protected by round-the-clock security guards, and offer a choice of five varieties, including OG Cush and Granddaddy Purple. Future plans include adding Vicodin, Viagra, and Propecia. I’d also work on the cabinet design (maybe one of those old blacklight posters).

3. Church Candles

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I don’t have much on this one, but it looks like there are cathedrals in Barcelona and the Canary Islands where you can light a candle dispensed from a special candle vending machine.

[Photo courtesy of TravelPod user WhereHeGoes.]

4. iPods

This little beauty was first spotted at Hartsfield-Atlanta International Airport in 2006. It stocks batteries, digital cameras and iPod minis. The machines spread to several other airports, and last year Apple placed them in Macy’s, because you never want to be too far from your favorite tunes.

5. Beer Atop Mount Fuji

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Mount Fuji is located in Fuji-Hakone-Izu national park in Japan. But if you plan to scale the country’s highest peak, you don’t need to bring a six-pack to celebrate once you’ve made it to the top. There’s a vending machine already there to quench any and all thirsts. But please don’t get too buzzed, as you’ve still got a long climb down.

[Image courtesy of Flickr user Jackson Boyle.]

6. Tiny Works of Art

Here’s the one entry on the list I’ve actually seen in person. They’ve had one of these Art-o-Mat vending machines at the Whitney Museum for quite a few years. Made from recycled cigarette machines, they dispense tiny works of original art for five dollars a pop. There are 82 active machines across the US, and they dispense work from 400 artists. Perfect for the aspiring collector on a budget.

7. Live Lobsters (of course)

You’ve probably seen articles on strange vending machines before. And hopefully I’ve included a few new ones. But I wasn’t about to leave out one of the classics – the live lobster vending machine. I’ve never seen one in person, but the idea of a claw game to pick up a live animal is strangely appealing to me. Can’t say it does much for the lobsters, though.

8. Rhinoceros Beetles

Speaking of live animals, Rhinoceros beetles are very popular pets in Japan. Young Japanese boys will collect them, trade them and have beetle fights. Vending machines offer male beetles for 300 yen, and females for 100. Apparently, news of the US Fair Pay Act hasn’t made its way into the Japanese Rhino Beetle population.

9. Used Panties

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I won’t spend too much time on this one. Let’s just say there were once vending machines in Japan that offered used women’s undergarments. And you thought the beetles were wacky.

10. Fine China

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I’ve saved my absolute favorite for last. The Passive Aggressive Anger Release is an interactive sculpture that lets you experience the satisfying feeling of breaking a piece of China into a million tiny pieces, leaving you content and stress-free. I’m not sure where these things are, but I’ve worked in a few office environments that could use half a dozen on each floor. Could be a new business opportunity. [Image courtesy of Today and Tomorrow.]

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