Once upon a time vending machines would only sell candy and soft drinks. That time is gone and nowadays the array of products goes beyond imagination, from Champagne to health food, umbrellas, cupcakes, ties, electronics and much more.
And when you think the possibilities have reached the end, there comes someone else with yet another innovative idea. An east China province has given fresh food an entire new meaning after installing a vending machine that sells live crabs. The unusual contraption, which sells crabs that are chilled but not yet dead, has been installed on a street in Hangzhou, the capital of east China’s Zhejiang province. Hungry shoppers can buy one of the crustaceans for between 20 and 60 yuan – the equivalent of around £2 and £6.20 – depending on size. And they don’t have to fear that their seafood is deceased as the machine’s temperature and humidity are deliberately set to ensure that the crabs are kept alive.
The crustaceans, which are prized for their unique, sweet taste, are a popular market treat during China’s mid-autumn festival, a popular harvest celebration in east Asia. However, this is the first time they have been available in neatly stacked rows, ready to be dispensed at the click of a button. The machine, which is a far cry from similar contraptions crammed with junk food, also sells packets of vinegar and ginger.
The Chinese entrepreneur behind its invention, known as Mr Liu, said he hopes to promote the selling of live crabs via vending machine in subway stations and supermarkets across the country. And Mr Liu isn’t the only entrepreneur to have dabbled in the vending machine business recently.
Inventors from Belgium company, BreakTime Solutions have installed a vending machine outside a supermarket in Brussels that dispenses French fries in an instant.The ingenious contraption, which lets shoppers satisfy their craving for greasy food on the go, takes the shopper’s order and immediately gets to work.It drops a portion of frozen French fries into some piping hot oil until cooked – even adding a splash of beef dripping to make the chips extra tasty.