For nearly a century before the Internet put the anonymous consumption of vices literally at the world’s fingertips, vending machines dispensed taboo wares, experiences, and entertainment free from the gaze of prying eyes. Salyers argues that the first vending machines in wide use were the snuff and tobacco boxes in 17th century English taverns, appropriate forerunners to the ubiquitous, plastic-handled cigarette dispensers that populated bars, bowling allies, and restaurants in the second half of the 20th century. Be it the condom machine in the gas station bathroom, the coin-operated peep show, the pinball craze that prompted a moral panic in the 1940s, truant hoods spending afternoons in smoke-blanketed video game arcades in the 1980s, or the rebellious rock ’n’ roll dispensing jukebox, there has always been a subversive element to coin-operated commerce. Even the Norman Rockwellcelebrated Coca-Cola machine has gone rogue, as public health activists now fault soda and candyand, in particular, the widespread availability of both through vending machinesfor the fattening of American children.
(Image from Jake Bronstein's toy vending machine project. Bronstein bought a machine off the internet and "filled the toy capsules with ideas of fun things to do and started placing the machine in various spots around New York.")
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