Are you facing a long car ride — punctuated by innumerable rest stops — this Labor Day weekend? Many of the roads I travel have “Welcome to Massachusetts or New Hampshire or Maine,” in front of a New England style structure with bathrooms and a line-up of vending machines.
What Number And Letter Button Do You Push?
Whether out of boredom or hunger when you’re confronted with a similar line-up, index finger ready to punch the letter and number of your chosen indulgence, what do you ultimately choose?
I have to be honest, I love vending machines – I have since I was a kid and spent a nickel to get cardboard packages of two chiclets of gum on New York City subway platforms.
Here’s a bit of interesting trivia. Around 215 BC, the mathematician Hero invented a vending type device that accepted bronze coins to dispense holy water.
In 1888 vending became economically viable in the US when the Adams Gum Company put gum machines on New York City’s elevated train platforms that dispensed a piece of Tutti-Frutti gum for a penny.
Today’s automated vending business is a $30 billion-a-year industry with around100 million people using 7 million vending machines each day. Around 30% of the machines are in manufacturing facilities and slightly over 16% are on school and college campuses.
Best Selling Vending Machine Candy
According to an unscientific survey of 20 vending machine owners, when asked what their best selling vending machine product is:
- 1 said Reese’s
- 1 said Cashews
- 1 said Mike n’ Ike
- 1 said Smartfood White Cheddar popcorn
- 1 said Stickers (“ cause kids can’t resist them)
- 2 said Gumballs
- 3 said Skittles
- 10 said Peanut M & Ms
Peanuts In Our Candy
We Americans love peanuts in our candy. Out of the ten most popular candy bars sold in the US, five of them — Snickers, Reese’s peanut butter cups, Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, and Oh Henry! — contain peanuts or peanut butter. In most vending machines, about 25% of the dispensed food contains peanuts or peanut butter – a cautionary note for anyone with a peanut allergy.
Some Stomach Churning Info
Some stomach churning info and advice, in his own words, from a bulk candy (machines that you often find in diners where you get handfuls of loose candy for a quarter) vendor’s blog:
The best selling bulk candy is peanut m&m’s, but you have to be careful because the m&ms can be very messy. “Imagine a hot summer day and your bulk vending machine is placed near a window . . . if that sun is beaming down on your vending machine those m&ms will melt and you will lose that location quick when the lady in the office gets chocolate on her hands and accidentally gets it on her blouse.”
On Mike n’ Ikes, his favorite bulk candy: “Man I have had a lot of success with these colorful tasty little bad boys. Mike n Ikes do well in the winter and in the summer but just like the m&ms please be careful in the summer.
In the summer if your bulk vending machine is in a hot location the Mike N Ikes can stick together and become one big ball. To stop this from happening you can lightly spray the Mike N Ikes with Pam or your favorite cooking spray, and you shouldn’t have a problem in the summer time.”
On Gumballs: Gumballs are your best friend and are by far the most profitable and are indestructible. “The only tips I can suggest on these gumballs are after a couple of months in your machine please check them by biting into a gumball every now and then. Sometimes these gumballs get real hard and after that you are going to want to get rid of them.”
If a vending machine calls your name, choose wisely. There are good, better, and best choices to be made. You can almost always find packages of nuts, or popcorn, or pretzels, or dried fruit. Be careful of things with too much sugar, especially if you’re driving. A big time sugar hit may give you energy from an initial blood sugar spike but more than likely it will be followed by a drop in your blood sugar levels possibly making you sleepy, grouchy, and hungry.