When you think of vending machine fare, the first thing that comes to mind is probably bottles of soda or bags of chips. Vending machines tend to be stocked with their location-dependent audience in mind. Across the globe, vending machines can look different depending on where they are and who they aim to serve. There are some truly bizarre vending options out there, and if you're traveling around, you might keep an eye out for these strange offerings.

A Last-Minute Gift Vending Machine in Dubai

Brown paper wrapped box with a pink ribbon tied into a bow
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Dubai is quickly becoming a hub for luxury travelers and is working to keep up the amenities to go along with the reputation. From loosening its liquor laws to investing in luxury accommodations, the city is inviting guests from all around the globe to come and enjoy a stay in a land known for its glitz and excess. All of those harried jet setters may find themselves in a bind when it comes to needing a gift for a loved one or to present to a party host as they hop to their next destination. Dubai has them covered with a gift-giving vending machine.

S*uce Gifts has a vending machine with a range of possible presents available. From lingerie to scented candles, visitors can pick up a nice gift at any hour. The machine even provides shiny gold gift bags for each item. That means you don't even have to wrap your purchase before handing it over to the recipient. Talk about convenience!

Horned Beetle Vending Machines in Japan

Two atlas beetles on a rock
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Japan is a hotspot for vending machines. In fact, Japan has the highest density of vending machines worldwide; there's a machine for every 23 people. Visitors may find it odd to see them everywhere they turn, and they'll be selling a little bit of everything.

One illustration of just how well this plan works is the live beetle vending machine. Collecting live bugs is a popular Japanese activity that's mostly done to educate children. With increasing urbanization, finding bugs in the wild is more and more difficult. Vending machines solve the problem. People can purchase a pair of live horned beetles in a box. The plan was so successful that the vending machine sold out within minutes of being filled each day. People were even traveling up to 100 miles to make a purchase.

Local Art Vending Machines in Las Vegas

A person clicking button on a vending machine
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Once upon a time, cigarette vending machines were nearly ubiquitous. Today, they're increasingly rare as smoking has declined and restrictions on cigarette sales have increased. What should be done with all those vintage cigarette vending machines? Leave it to the artists to figure it out.

The Art-o-Mat turns old cigarette vending machines into places to get local art in a hurry. American artist Clark Whittington (based in North Carolina) came up with the idea and stocked the first one with black and white photos. Today, the machines can be found across the United States, including in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Ocala, Florida. They are popular in art and music museums. Local artists fill them with surprise art work small enough to fit in the cigarette box-sized packages, and they're a great source of novelty and whimsy for those who stumble upon one.

Mashed Potatoes Vending Machines in Singapore

A single serving dish of mashed potatoes and gravy on a textured blue background
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Have you ever just really needed some mashed potatoes? Singapore understands and has come up with a solution: the mashed potato vending machine. These ingenious devices can be found in Singapore's 7-11 stores. Much like the more famous Slurpee machines, users can serve themselves up a perfectly-portioned dish with the pull of a lever.

A smooth mound of mashed potatoes comes out first, and a light drizzle of gravy completes the process. Warm and ready to eat, it's comfort food that's done in seconds. This machine is joined by baguette machines in France and other food-filled vending machines that aim to quickly connect quality-conscious food consumers with the goods they want anytime they want them.