Thursday, 23 April 2009


Slightly odd URL - if AVA stands for Automatic Vending Association, I'm not quite sure where the extra Vending comes from. I don't care too much though because it's vending. I love vending machines.

For me, when I think of vending machines, I think of the machine in the lobby at Cheam Baths. Or rather, I think of the machine that was in the lobby at Cheam Baths when I was about nine or ten years old.

My friends and I would go swimming most weekends, especially when they had the Cheam Scream (an inflatable slide) and the Wobstacle Course (an inflatable wobstacle course). Afterwards, we'd wait in the lobby, my friends would play Double Dragon and I'd get a packet of Wheat Crunchies from the vending machine.

Buying crisps from a vending machine is more exciting than playing any arcade game. Even Double Dragon. The lightweight nature of the crisps, plus the size and shape of the packet, means there's a possibility of snagging on what I now know to be called the "helix coil". A Mars Bar is unlikely to snag, its relatively heavy weight means it drops down cleanly into what I have just decided should be called the collection bay. I consider this possibility to be an added thrill, a sense of danger, of risk. Others are traumatised by the experience. But for every crisp-snagging disaster, there is the joy of finding a vending machine where a packet of crisps has already snagged and as a result, you can double up and get two for the price of one.

It's not just crisps and snacks you can get from vending machines. You can get cold drinks, hot drinks, CDs, DVDs, video games and mobiles, books, umbrellas, shoes, pizzas, memory cards, pies, Bentleys, lobsters, underpants but not used underpants, eggs, coat-hangers, worms and pornography.

Quite a lot of those are from Japan, where according to Wikipedia, there is one vending machine for every twenty-three people. Very impressive. The AVA don't seem so concerned with such esoteric vending items, though, they seem to concentrate more on refreshment vending:
Consumers in Britain annually spend some £1.5 billion through the slots of more than 418,000 refreshment vending machines. Every day, 8 million cups of coffee and 2 million cups of tea are vended.

Almost anything can be automatically vended, but the principal food and drink products are:
  • Hot and cold beverages
  • Cold drinks in bottles, cans or cartons
  • Confectionery and savoury snacks
  • Sandwiches and snack foods
  • Cook/chill dishes (for heating in an adjacent microwave)
  • Plated meals
  • Ice cream
Pfff, that's boring. "Sandwiches and snack foods", whatever AVA - live lobsters, worms and porn are much better.

You can get water from vending machines. Look, this diagram shows the process water goes though from raincloud to vending machine.

I hope some of the stages have been abbreviated in that diagram, it sort of looks like the rain travels along some pipes until it reaches that bloke's office.

1 comment:

mmechevrolet said...

I broke the story on in-cup leaf tea at Vendex back in the day. It was a major breakthrough in preventing your coffee tasting like the soup the last person had.