These days, some people are using vending machines as a low-effort side hustle, buying machines and stocking standard items like chips, pretzels, and sodas.
But the simple snacks and drinks are just the start of the possibilities when it comes to a vending machine business.
Around the world, people are selling some truly wild items — from champagne to cake to live crabs (yes, really) — in vending machines. Here are 16 of the most peculiar machines you can find (and where).
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Yes, there really are vending machines in China that sell live crabs.
Crabs are probably not your first choice when you think of a quick, on-the-go snack, but if you happen to be in Hangzhou, China, and want to pick up a few crabs for dinner, the city has a vending machine that sells them for just a few bucks (the crabs are subdued, so you won’t have to deal with any claw attacks).
If you’re looking for a slightly sweeter vending machine snack, ATM-style machines selling cakes and cupcakes have been popping up across the U.S.
Sprinkles has cupcake ATMs in several major cities around the country and Carlo’s Bakery (the shop featured in the TLC hit show Cake Boss) now has several cake ATMs in New Jersey, Las Vegas, and Canada.
Can you trust pizza from a vending machine? Judging by the success of a pizza vending machine company known as PizzaForno, plenty of people do.
Inspired by pizza vending machines he visited in Europe, the creator behind PizzaForno first began opening his automatic pie machines in Canada — and they were such a hit that they’ve since expanded across the country and into the U.S.
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The morning after pill
These days, vending machines aren’t just about convenient snacks, but convenience in general.
College campuses are now offering machines that sell Plan B, also known as the morning after pill. According to the Associated Press, these machines are now at 39 universities across the U.S. — and many more are considering them.
If you’re hit with a strong burrito craving (as many of us frequently are) and happen to be in Los Angeles, you can get a quick and cheap one at a Burritobox vending machine.
Since it’s coming from a vending machine, the burritos aren’t customizable, but you can add sauces or guacamole — and the machine will crank out your burrito in just about a minute.
Salad in a jar
Another vending option that offers actual meals, Farmer’s Fridge has machines that offer quick, convenient salads in a jar in places like office buildings, airports, and more across the U.S.
The salads can be eaten right from the jar (or poured out into your own plate or bowl if you happen to be heading home) and come with dressing.
Moët & Chandon has champagne vending machines at several hotels across the U.S. — including in New York City, New Orleans, Las Vegas, and others.
The mini bottles of bubbly offer a great alternative to ordering room service champagne and hotel guests can pop down to the lobby at any time to grab one.
Beer (and sake) vending machines were quite popular in Japan in the past, though they are reportedly becoming less prevalent now (or requiring ID checks) due to concerns about underage drinking.
Still, you can find boozy vending machines around popular parts of Tokyo and beyond.
At places like malls and shopping centers across the U.S., you can now purchase hair extensions right from a vending machine.
Hair extensions are one of many beauty items that have now made their way into the vending machine game (some sell eyelashes as well).
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If you happen to have a caviar craving while out and about in Los Angeles, several malls are now selling caviar from a vending machine.
It may make the whole experience feel a bit less luxurious, but the prices won’t — you can drop as much as $500 on some primo caviar at one of these machines. They also sell several other delicacies — like escargot and truffles.
Egg vending machines are available in several parts of the world — including Japan, Germany, and Ireland.
These egg delivery devices have to be a bit more precise than your typical vending machine, which may just drop a bag of chips for customers to remove from the bottom drawer.
In Japan, for example, the egg cartons sit in different compartments, which customers can unlock after they pay.
For baguettes on the go, you can find several baguette vending machines throughout France.
They are not super popular but have been popping up more and more outside bakeries or in other high-traffic areas for those who crave some delicious French bread after their favorite boulangerie has closed for the day.
When you think of a quick vending machine snack, you probably don’t think of an entire, homemade pecan pie, but if you’re in Cedar Creek, Texas — best believe you can get one.
The vending machine is situated near Berdoll Pecan Farm so that their ever-popular pies can be purchased 24/7.
Don’t have time to get to a grocery store during your visit to Tokyo?
No problem, you can pick up a bushel of bananas from a Dole vending machine in Shibuya Station, a major transportation hub (and popular tourist destination) in the city.
They’re stored at an optimal temperature, too, so you don’t have to worry about any rotten fruit either.
A few years back, book vending machines started popping up in high-traffic areas in Singapore (a great convenience for commuters looking for something to distract them on their rides home).
In the U.S., book vending machines can also be found at some schools and libraries (and a company called Inchy sells book vending machines aimed at schools).
Tokyo is well-known for the eclectic mix of items you can find in vending machines throughout the city — and umbrella vending machines are one of the more unique (albeit rare) options.
If you get caught in the rain in Japan’s capital city, these machines are dedicated solely to selling different-sized umbrellas.
They are not super common, but there is one at JR Suidōbashi Station and some other high-traffic areas. It’s not a bad way to make extra money.
The beauty of vending machines is multi-faceted for both customers and those who own them.
There’s something to be said about being able to pay a few bucks and pick up what you need at any time of day.
For side hustlers, especially those who stock their machines with unique yet in-demand items, these machines can be a serious money-maker that helps you build wealth.