Unwrapped: The Evolution of Vending Machines


From the first dispensers in ancient Rome to today’s cashless machines offering everything from candy to salads, the vending machine’s evolution is a fascinating journey. Mike Weisser, President and Chief Executive Officer at SandenVendo America, spoke about vending’s past, present and future.

In the past 25 years, Weisser’s seen some significant transitions in the industry. The move from 12oz beverage cans to 16 and 20oz bottles was a major shift in vending. And another change was the transition from carbonated soft drinks to bottled water and even sports drink offerings. Cashless systems and pay-by-phone apps are the latest advancements changing the vending machine industry.

Weisser noted that, throughout much of vending’s history, the technology behind it didn’t change much, but around the year 2000, the advent of robotic delivery systems began to transform the industry.

“Vending machines used to be pretty simple. Product packaging was more of a delivery mechanism, and now it’s become a marketing tool,” Weisser said.

All of the different packaging changes, including size, shape, weight and material, impact the delivery mechanisms of vending machines and keep Weisser’s company on its toes.

Consumer changes Weisser sees today are in healthy food, snacks and beverage options.

“These requests are causing us to put more thought into the delivery systems to handle the variances in the packaging of these items,” Weisser said.

How vending handles storing and distributing a salad is different than how it dispenses a bottled beverage.

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