The japanese have taken vending machine technology and proceeded to kick the rest of the world's ass. There are times it seems that there is nothing they can't or won't sell through a vending machine. Not only that, their vending machines seem to do it just do it better. Just take a look at an average drink machine there and compare it to the last one you've seen.
The sheer number of options is pretty impressive, not to mention that most of these machines will dispense hot beverages at the same time. It'll actually heat up your can of coffee or whatever for you alongside cans of chilled soda. That's pretty impressive considering that it's more than our coke machines can manage and is apparently profit-generating to boot. Speaking of coke machines...
It almost looks like what would happen if that transformer cube whozit hit a coke machine.
So not only do the Japanese vending machines do it better, they also sell things that we don't run into in the states. Not only are they still selling cigarettes through them but you can buy booze as well.
Can you just imagine the run on this sort of machine if they put it on some college campus in the states? All you would need is to put it next to the 'medical' marijuana vending machine and it might be the most popular place on campus.
Beverages aside, since I've been looking into the subject I've seen pictures of vending machines in Japan that sell an amazing variety of foodstuffs. Forget bags of chips. There are machines which sell fresh eggs, udon noodles, ramen, and even natto. I know fermented soybeans are probably infinitely more popular there than it would be here, but I still find it hard to believe that there are enough patrons to justify such a vending machine. I mean, who walks down the street and thinks to themselves, man, I just wish there were a way I could get a pre-packaged chunk of soybeans that looks like someone blew snots all over them and tastes gagarific. There's even a vending machine that dispenses sushi.
I think you probably have to have a lot of guts to contemplate the idea of eating raw machine shot out of a vending machine in most cases. It seems like it would be open invitation to experience the stomach flu and we all know where that ends up.
The funny thing is while I wouldn't trust a sushi machine located in the states, I could see myself trusting one in Japan. Maybe it's nothing but pure bias, but it seems to me that the Japanese have a sense of general societal responsibility that doesn't exist here. I'm more likely to trust that some wage slave there is sure to stock the machine with fresh offerings each day rather than keeping the old stuff around to increase the profit margin.
I know it's been said in many places but it's hard not to perceive the Japanese as an orderly and law-abiding people. Believe it or not, this fact is actually reflected heavily in their vending machines. There are vending machines everywhere in the country, even in places you might not normally expect them to be. Take a moment and think about the most infamous Japanese vending machine of all time, the one that sells used school-girl panties.
If you look at the linked related video, this whole host of adult vending machines are located in the equivalent of bumfuck nowhere. If you stocked a vending machine like this with pr0n and put it in the boonies in the United States, I'll bet you dollars to donuts the damn thing would be destroyed and emptied within a week. Hell, a week is probably an overestimation in this case. Forget for the moment that you have a society where a laboring rice farmer treks home at the end of a hard day's work and stops to pick up some pr0n and a dildo from a vending machine on his way. Also forget that in this society there's actually some business man or company who feels that it's a profitable venture to place such a set of vending machines in the middle of a bunch of rice fields. What you have to conclude is that however maladjusted the society is, it's certainly a law-abiding one. From what I've seen, this sort of pr0n-shack filled with vending machines is not an uncommon sight in the sticks in Japan. I can only imagine there are a lot of horny farmers without internet access and a lot of happy teenage boys.
In case you were curious, there actually are rice vending machines where you can apparently buy up to 25 pounds of rice at a go. Again, whoever would have thought there existed such a need for something like this to begin with?
As a conclusion to this ramble through the interesting world of Japanese vending machines, I thought I would end with my favorite out of all the ones I've discovered. Surprisingly, it isn't even the used panty machine. Enjoy.