Alex Rowe

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Banana vending machine a 'cool idea'

Australia's first banana vending machine is set up in Brisbane, with shoppers saying it's a "fantastic" idea, "as long as they are fresh".

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Chips, chocolate bars, soft drinks, meh! That's so old hat. Gone are the days of the one-dimensional vending machine, that irresistible and convenient source of salty treats and complex sugars. With the advent of Australia's first banana dispensing vending machine, healthy choices have arrived.

Does this mark the start of an Australian vending machine revolution inspired by the likes of Japan and Europe? Time will tell. We have a few items on our wishlist, how about you?

Banana bar, rolled out recently in Brisbane's CBD, offers a healthy and quick alternative to traditional vending machine products. Not only are bananas high in potassium and iron, they also generate serotonin – the happy-mood neurotransmitter in the brain.

Skip the queues ... A meat pie machine at the footy? Must have a sauce dispenser.
Skip the queues ... A meat pie machine at the footy? Must have a sauce dispenser. Photo: Jennifer Soo

Third-generation banana farmer Daniel MacKay is convinced that his novel idea will, well, go bananas.

“I think we hit the right time – people are interested in healthy food but they still want convenience,” he told brisbanetimes.com.au

All going well, the product will expand nationally within Australia. The offering: $2 for three bananas or $3 for five. So will Australians go on a banana bender? Or will we soon see an abundance of new products introduced to the market, much like those currently on offer overseas. Vending machines in Milan's airport distribute pizza, in the Netherlands – it's croquettes, while in the Czech Republic beer is readily available.

Hangover cure ... A bacon and egg roll dispenser near the train station or bus stop perhaps?
Hangover cure ... A bacon and egg roll dispenser near the train station or bus stop perhaps? Photo: Tamara Dean

Undoubtedly Japan reigns supreme in the vending stakes. One variety actually grows its own lettuce under fluorescent lights before distributing it to customers. The egg machine next door will help you jazz up that snack. Should you need a quick tipple, alcoholic beverage dispensers could be just around the corner, readily accessible to all ages without discrimination or dress code.

Don't fret if you're arriving home late from work, pre-arranged flower bouquets will work a treat. If you haven't picked up something to cook for dinner, Germany has sausages available for some pocket change.

But why wait till you get home to eat? Nestle's subsidiary Maggi established potato and gravy dispensing vending machines on Singapore's streets – problem solved.

But few can compete with the novel idea of one vending machine designer in the US. 'Maine Lobster Game' gives those willing to test their skill a chance at catching their own lobster. Although that's possibly one the RSPCA might object to.

Perhaps we'll see vending machines replace our time-honoured supermarket experiences. The University of NSW has already instituted a 'Automated Convenience Store' which sells items like popcorn, muesli bars, biscuits and toothpaste at the push of a button. The essentials every student needs.

How about a hot pie machine at the footy to help you skip the queues – pre-sauced if they're clever. Bacon and egg hangover cures - sunny side up could be hard. Dumplings on the run or what about the late night pancake? Select your topping and you're off.

What vending machines would you like to see in your everyday? Jump on the comments and share your wish list.