Consumer Freedom

Vending, Vidi, Vici: U.S. Vending Machines Get More Creative

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Cupcake ATM, LA Sprinkles

Sprinkles, an Los Angeles-based bakery, will soon launch the world's first cupcake ATM in Beverly Hills. According to the Facebook page made just for this delectable device, "This automatic cupcake machine dispenses freshly baked cupcakes, cupcake mixes, apparel and even cupcakes for Fido!" Open 24/7 and with new cupcakes added each day, the cupcake ATM will be the ultimate vending machine for stoners. Too bad it comes after a crackdown on L.A.'s medical marijuana dispensaries. Bummer.

In addition to cupcakes, L.A. is also home to America's first underwear vending machine. Operated by MeUndies.com, the machine sells micro model men's underwear for $16 a pair on Hollywood Boulevard. MeUndies will soon add women's underwear and socks to future mechanical vendors. Eventually, the site hopes to roll out more undie dispensers at gyms, hotels, and airports. To double down on free minds and free markets, perhaps MeUndies could partner with 4th Amendment Wear and protest the TSA.

Nevertheless, with underwear vending machines (and our burgeoning debt crisis), it's clear America is getting closer and closer to becoming Japan.

Meanwhile, in Boston, a group of MIT students have developed a vending machine for bike helmets. Called the HelmetHub, these machines will be launched in Boston over the summer and can hold 12 helmets each. For $8 a piece, cyclists can either keep the helmet or rent it and drop it off at another HelmetHub. Since only 30 percent of cyclists in Boston's bikeshare program currently wear a helmet, there is a big potential market.

But even if HelmetHubs take off, it could face roadblocks from the Massachusetts state government who are proposing a 567 percent hike in license fees for vending machines. Fees would jump from $3 a machine to $20. Since there are over 22,000 vending machines in the Bay State, officials estimate this would raise $375,000 in revenue. To top off this statist maelstrom, these proposed proceeds would fund Massachusetts' implementation of Obamacare. According to an official with the state's Department of Public Health, "the increase is primarily to support the inspectional staff that will need to focus efforts on carrying out inspections across the commonwealth."

If only there were a vending machine that dispensed Constitutions…

For more on consumer freedom, be sure to check out Reason's voluminous coverage of vending machines that dispense everything from the morning-after pill to bars of gold.