10 Surprising Foods You Can Buy From Vending Machines

These vending machines make us feel like we live in the best kind of future.

Vending machines are the ultimate convenience—there's nothing like grabbing a snack or two at the push of a button for a couple bucks. We love our futuristic treat delivery systems, don't we? Well, if you're only buying peanuts and Milky Ways, you're missing out on the full potential of these versatile devices. Vending machines across the globe sell a wide variety of items, making countless confections (and even entire meals) available 24/7. Here are 10 foods and drinks sold in vending machines you simply wouldn't expect to find there.

Raw meat

For anyone out there prowling for a juicy steak in the wee hours of the morning unable to get their fix, there's a solution to satisfy your cravings. Vending machines selling raw meats are out there for your indulgence, and certainly at your convenience. In Paris, France, one vending machine started selling items like beef filet, beef carpaccio, and sausages 24/7 at (roughly) market prices. The meats come vacuum-sealed and frozen, and shoppers can use credit and debit cards to pay for each selection, ranging from €3-€7. Here in the United States, the format has popped up at butcher shops in recent years, too, such as at Applestone Meat Co. in New York.

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Bacon

Though this bacon dispenser was only available for a limited time, let us never forget that it was a thing. This beautiful bit of technology debuted at Ohio State University in 2018, situated in the animal science building and stocked by students in the meat science department with donations from the Ohio Pork Council. For just $1, students could purchase single-serve, ready-to-eat bacon products, with proceeds funding the department. The whole thing was intended to spur the sale of pork and raise awareness of Ohio pork products. The machine stood for only eight days, but sold 275 pounds of product.

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Pizza

If, in your hungriest moments, you've ever wished for pizza to be dispensed right into your bare hands, now it can be—specifically, fresh personal pizzas courtesy of a recipe from a French chef. PizzaForno has been growing its services steadily throughout North America, its flagship product a quaint-looking machine boasting "artisan pizza in three minutes." In 2021, Rome got its own version called Mr. Go Pizza, a machine that does everything from kneading and topping the dough to baking it off.

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Bread

Yes, there's a vending machine to address your carb cravings, though not where you'd expect. Contraptions dispensing warm baguettes are stationed in France along hiking trails or near boulangeries so customers can still access their daily bread when the businesses are closed. And France isn't the only country that offers fast bread. Japan, known for its creative use of vending machines, makes use of them to provide an affordable, lightning quick option in bustling cities like Tokyo. Pancan, a Japanese canned bread, can be dispensed to hungry pedestrians at any time of the day.

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Caviar 

Things are taking a fancier turn here, and if you've got the money to burn on a sick dinner party, you could do worse than dropping a couple hundred on vending machine caviar in Los Angeles. With prices ranging from $50 up to $500, options in this vending machine are as rich as the clientele, and not limited to fish eggs. Escargot, truffles, salts, oils, and bottarga are just some of the snacks available to overspend on. Several malls in Los Angeles have installed these machines in the past, though it's unclear if they saw enough business to sustain themselves in the long term.

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Soft-serve ice cream

It's safe to say that the more we increase access to soft serve, the more peace we will achieve in the world (it's called science). And we're lucky to live in a world where you can have soft serve ice cream dispensed to you via vending machine. Accepting payment via card or apps, iCream started off in a mall in Los Angeles, California. The ice cream, dispensed in under 60 seconds, starts at around $3 for vanilla and adding toppings costs a quarter each. The machine now also offers Pinkberry frozen yogurt, and there are dozens of ways to combine flavors and toppings. Unsurprisingly, there are already 10 locations in Southern California and plans to expand.

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Fresh salads

Yes, produce now has a place in the vending machine industry. Though you might not find beets freshly pulled from the ground inside them, vending machines offering various veggie options are here to help consumers find lunch with ease. Farmer's Fridge, based in Chicago, offers ready-to-eat meals 24/7, delivered each morning to company-owned machines at airports, office buildings, hospitals, and anywhere else it might be tough to find a solid meal option that isn't fast food. If you didn't think nature and technology could combine to give you your necessary vitamins and minerals, think again.

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Champagne

You can get champagne from a vending machine if you have an occasion that requires immediate celebration. Though not the first champagne vending machine in the US, Moët & Chandon Champagne can be found in Manhattan at New York's Lexington Hotel and other fancy hotels across the country (such as the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia, seen in the video above). Guests can treat themselves to a sip of sparkling booze the easy way, buying a gold coin from the hotel for $25 and then using that coin to purchase the beverage. Offered in small glass bottles, the bubbly also comes with a champagne flute for optimal enjoyment.

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Insects

Japan sells another snack that you might not realize is wildly popular around the globe. Advertised as highly nutritious, various insects, including bamboo worms, diving beetles, crickets, silkworm pupae, and locusts, can be purchased out of a vending machine if you're in need of a quick snack. They cost the equivalent of $8 USD and are sold in jars by species, though some other machines can be found with containers boasting "mixed bugs" as a snack, if you can't decide which insect you'd like to try first.

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Eggs

Scrambling to find eggs somewhere? You'll be happy to know that some vending machines offer this grocery store staple. In California, for example, one farm sells its eggs this way so they can be easily dispensed to customers—an idea that started during pandemic lockdowns. This vending method not only minimizes contact and helps support small businesses and local economies, but allows consumers 24/7 access to an important of their daily diet.

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