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Vending Machine Vendetta

Though still a waste of packaging, hopefully this vending machine will be coming to a hallway near you.

When I’m forced to make my selection from a vending machine my palms start to sweat and my stomach growls.  I’m destined for hunger for hours.  The offerings of B4 or E8 won’t offer any satisfaction or relief.  Oh, the dissatisfaction!  If your only food option is a vending machine, you’re doomed for something unhealthy, right?

The cheap, highly caloric options that tend to be stocked are empty calories – no nutritional value and often packed with sugar, salt or fat.  According to American Merchandiser, the 5 most popular items are: Snickers, Doritos, Peanut M&Ms, Cheetos and Cheez-Its.  If we were playing a word association game and you said ‘vending machine’ 4 of those would have been on the tip of my tongue.  (Who knew Cheez-Its were so popular?  Not me.)

Interestingly, one of the worst picks (the Apple Fruit Pie Pocket thingy) didn’t even make the list!  Anyway, there are some healthier options out there; here are a few:

  1. Sunflower seeds
  2. Nature Valley Granola Bars/Quaker Granola bars
  3. Roasted Nuts
  4. Fig Newton’s
  5. Low fat popcorn

I would venture so far as to say that seeds and nuts are even healthy, not merely the best of the worst.  But what about other healthy options?!  Well, those vending machines are like an urban legend.  We hear they exist but I have yet to see one.  The problem is that fresh food spoils more quickly, costs more to stock, and requires extra manpower due to its short shelf life.

To complicate matters further, different types of fruit like to be stored at different temperatures.  For instance, if your fantasy vending machine includes bananas, they have to be stored at a higher temperature than cut strawberries in order to maintain freshness.  Some companies have developed refrigerated vending machines with the air flow directed in such a way that different levels of a machine are held at different temperatures.  The problem: they cost about two-thirds more than a traditional machine.  But where are our values?!  Isn’t our long term health worth it?!  If you answered no, let me appeal to your vanity, aren’t you tired of your expanding waistline?  Let’s put in the effort and the money - have a raffle, organize a run, walk or bike, or simply have a bake sale!* 

*I’m kidding, don’t have a bake sale.  If you’re wondering why not, I suggest you re-read the article (read: those treats aren’t any more satisfying and are probably higher in sugar and fat). Plus, bake sale items are likely made from a box, not scratch.  If you’re going to indulge, at least make it worth it.

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4 Comments to "Vending Machine Vendetta"

  1. Kristen says:

    Oh I am so glad that I am not alone on major anxiety when my stomach is hungry and the only option is a vending machine. I started carrying a 911 pack in my car for that very reason.

  2. Ariel Levy says:

    This sounds like a business opportunity me! Healthy Vending machines…that’s gotta be a profitable biz.

    • Kate Gardner says:

      It could be wildly popular! The technology is out there, we just have to get the cost down. Maybe a different spin on these machines could be to take said fruit and blend it into a low fat yogurt smoothie. I like where this is going.

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