What’s the obsession with vending machines?

I asked this question last week. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I stock the newspaper racks outside of Shoppers Value Foods in Hamilton and I’ve noticed hordes of thirsty locals storming the 50-cent soda machines outside the grocer’s front door. Yes, hordes.
I didn’t think much about it until I watched a woman feed quarters into one of the machines for a good five minutes before hauling off a plastic bag full of soda.
People ceaselessly whip up to those machines throughout the day, park in the no-parking fire line and clear them out. It’s a wonder they keep them in stock. Give that stocking boy a raise, and God forbid there be a fire.
I think the last time I used a vending machine was when I was working at a Boy Scout camp in like 2014. I’m not much of a soda drinker anymore--it’s too sweet. I’ve all but given up sweet tea, too. When I do drink soda, it’s usually a large $1 Diet Coke from McDonald’s. They taste so much better.
The older I’ve gotten, the more I appreciate a club soda and sparkling water. Bitter is better for me. Most people hate the taste. I’ve learned if you expect water, the flavor kicks in as a bonus. Alas, I have yet to see a vending machine for La Croix, Perrier Mineral or San Pellegrino Natural.
But folks want soda from these vending machines. And they want a lot of them.
One person said that if they’re in their pajamas, they like the convenience of just hopping out “for a quick dew” without going inside. I appreciate that! I think some PJ-wearing Walmart shoppers would do well to follow the example.
Another person said that the machines give you “the coldest pop” you’ve ever had. I ignored her and let her know she lives in the South and needs to speak Southern.
Now this one threw me for a loop: Someone said people are hoping that the machine malfunctions and they get two sodas instead of one.
So essentially, because gambling is somehow still not legal in Alabama, in some strange stretch of desperation, our citizens have resulted to betting their quarters on the soda machine vending out two Dr. Peppers.
I will personally hold our Legislature responsible for the millions of dollars lost by these souls gambling on soda. If for nothing else, please just pass a lottery for the sake of these people’s blood sugar levels.
Among the other many responses I was able to get, many said the price and temperature. A 50-cent Pepsi isn’t bad, but you end up paying more than you would if you bought a 12 pack.
A $5 pack of 12 cans would put you at about 42-cents per can. At that rate, you’d save a whole $1 buying the pack than you would 12 cans ($6) from the machine.
You could think of that as getting an extra two whole cans of soda in value by the time you’re done. I’m looking at you, lady with the bag full of sodas. And that’s a conservative approach. Most of the time you can find deals running for $3 or $4 per pack if you buy three at a time.
So, yes, you could win the jackpot and get two sodas--maybe. If I had enough quarters I might be able to do a study on the odds. Or, you could just walk in, grab the 12-pack and come out two sodas ahead without taking the chance.
Slide that special fridge-designed soda pack into your home refrigerator or freezer and you, too, can have “the coldest pop” you’ve ever tasted.
Or, just quit soda and join me on the sidelines with a Key Lime La Croix.

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