The " Let`s Pizza" machines, found in a few shopping malls and airports such as Malpensa in Milan and Palermo and Trapani in Sicily will make and individual pizza from scratch in just under three min. Push a button for your desired toppings, then watch through the little window as the machine mixes and kneads dough, adds toppings, and bakes.
Gold Bars Abu Dhabi, Frankfurt, Bergamo, and Moscow Airports
In case the dollar or euro fails during your flight home, you can always shore up ypur assets by picking up a few gold bars at a Gold to go vending machine.
Price: They fluctuate,s supposedly pegged to real time prices.
Raw Eggs Japan and California
In a country that sells bags of rice out of vending machines, it’s perhaps no surprise that you might find bags of fresh eggs inside vending machines along the side of the road, set up by local farmers. But you need not go all the way to Japan for fresh eggs from a machine. At Glaum Egg Ranch, outside Santa Cruz, $3 gets you 24 cage-free-chicken eggs, accompanied by a “live show” performed by dolled-up stuffed chickens (as in Beanie Babies, not former egg layers).
Gold Handcuffs Miami`s Mondrian South Beach Hotel
Hotel gift shops—so passé. At this chic South Beach hotel, one full wall of the lobby is taken up by the Semi-Automatic, an enticingly mod, purple vending machine. Some go-to items: a feather vest ($400), a $28 T-shirt emblazoned with the word recession, or, our favorite, the 24-karat-gold handcuffs ($350). You can even buy a nearby condo, or rent a 1953 Cadillac DeVille convertible.
Price: Ranges from $10 to $1.2 million. For the super-high-end items—say, buying a car or condo—you pay a deposit, which you lose if you later opt out.
Live Bait Across the U.S.
Finally, a way to buy leeches at 2 a.m. Placed in fishing-friendly locales across the U.S.—with several in Pennsylvania, New York, Wisconsin, and Illinois—these 24-hour machines have filled a gap left by bait and tackle shops that went under due to competition from big-box stores. PA Live Bait Vending owner Gary Harsel says that the machines’ best seller is probably the dozen night crawlers, but some machines also offer live minnows, crayfish, bloodworms, and leeches. They also carry non-living items such as hooks, bobbers, sinkers, motor oil for boats, and, of course, frosty beverages. (Good news: unbought bait doesn’t stay in the machine longer than a week.)
Price: $3 for a dozen night crawlers.
In this pedal-happy nation, it’s actually surprising that we hadn’t seen bicycle vending machines before now. The new Bikedispenser machines—currently found at railway stations in Arnhem and Nijmegen and coming soon to Delft, Duiven, and a dozen more locations by 2011—rent out bicycles for up to 20 hours. Just bring them back to the same station.
Price: About $16 your first time, then about $4 for each rental during the following 12 months.
One downside of a pedestrian-friendly city: being out and about in the wrong shoes. Asics has a roving vending machine—previously in London’s Carnaby Square but now in Liverpool—that sells its popular Onitsuka Tiger “trainers” (as the Brits call sneakers) for about $75 a pair. Seeing as it’s in a store with clerks nearby—who are, for the record, also selling shoes—this one seems more novelty than function. If it’s after 5 p.m., though, look for a Rollasole. Found mostly in nightclubs (such as Oceana), these machines offer comfy-but-flashy flats for ladies who have had it with dancing in stilettos. For just a few quid ($10 for Yanks), you can choose among small, medium, and large, in the colors Back to Black or Hi Ho Silver. The machines are headed to U.K. train stations and airports this summer, as well as nightclubs in New York, L.A., and Vegas.
With cigarette machines on the outs, A Novel Idea at least provides an idle diversion that won’t alienate the person sitting next to you at the airport. Found in airports (such as Heathrow) and hotels (such as Radisson Blu at London’s Stansted), the machines offer a variety of titles—best-selling authors such as Maeve Binchy and James Patterson, but also puzzle books and kids’ titles. Machines are also coming to Australia and Asia.
Price: About $10 each.
Fresh Bread Belgium
A nation of carbo-loaders: there are more than 7,000 fresh-bread vending machines scattered around Belgium, sitting near boulangeries that stock them with the same baguettes and sliced loaves you’ll find inside. Think the French look down on this? They can’t—they have these machines, too.
Price: About $4.
Prayer Candles Little Havana, Miami
At St. Michael the Archangel in Miami’s Little Havana, you can light prayer candles 24 hours a day in the church’s grotto. It made sense for the church to install a vending machine that offers round-the-clock prayer votives. (One priest does admit that the machine suffers when the Miami rain blows “sideways.”) You can also find such machines at Barcelona Cathedral.
Toilet Paper Japan
Of all the great things that are free in this world, toilet paper is sometimes not one of them. In the rare chance it isn't provided in Japan's public restrooms, you can readily find these little machines selling TP, presented in small packets not unlike facial tissue at convenience stores.
Price: About $1.
Wine by the Liter France
In the U.S., shoppers can fill their jugs with purified water. But in a few French supermarkets, you can fill up with red, white, or rosé wine. Bring your re-sealable bottle of choice—then pay by the liter at the cash register.
Price: About $2/liter.
Beer Czech Republic
Alcohol has been the Achilles’ heel of the vending machine industry: a machine that can reliably check IDs has bedeviled manufacturers, and as a result such machines have become more scarce, even in vending-loving Japan. But in the Czech Republic, where the drinking age is 18, Pilsner Urquell has developed a machine that can scan your ID (even a U.S. passport) before issuing you a cold can of pilsner. They’re found at the Pilsner Urquell brewery tour in Pilsen, hostels, sports venues, and even dorms. The most popular variety of beer, whose logo likely doesn’t make it onto many T-shirts: Velkopopovicky Kozel Light.
Price: About $1.50.
If it’s so easy to lose an umbrella, why shouldn’t it be easy to find another one? Umbrella vending machines sit outside train stations. And they’re a bargain—especially for something you’ll lose next week.
Price: About $5.
Cell Phone Charging, Seattle
Forgot your phone charger on your trip? Worry not: if you’re in the right place, you don't have to buy a new charger and getting your phone juiced up can even be a pleasant diversion. At Seattle’s Sea-Tac Airport, you can get your phone charged at a kiosk in the baggage claim. International cousins of the machine even have TV screens to entertain you for the 20 or so minutes it takes to get your phone back in action.
Sources of Information
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