Vending machines have been known to carry unlikely ingredients ranging from fresh strawberries in France to gold bars in Abu Dhabi. As of this month you can now find live golden crabs in machines in Nanjing, China.
According to the blog Japan Probe, the crabs are kept at "5 degrees Celsius, a temperature cold enough to make the crabs go into a state of hibernation." Should the one you select not wake up, you will get three free.
A crab, depending on the size, can cost between 10 and 50 yuan (€1-5), an estimated 30 percent savings compared to most sales points.
A company specializing in golden crabs, Nanjing Gaochun Double Lake Crab Co., helped to make the automated live crab machines.
And on October 21, the blog Shanghaiist pointed out that you don't have to worry about the need for flavoring your crab as the machine also has vinegar "located in small bottles at the bottom of the vending machine."
See it in action: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xfaa2j_japanprobe-dot-com_webcam (in Japanese).
Although Japan didn't come up with the idea, it was the first place to have a live lobster vending machine and definitely demonstrates serious love for vending machines.
According to JapanGuidebook.com, there is one "vending machine for every 23 people," or six million machines total, making it one of the nations with "the highest vending machine densities in the world."
Many blogs ( oddee, tripcrazed, photomann) have devoted posts to honoring the odd products one can find in a Japanese vending machine, products that range from used schoolgirl panties and sake to fresh eggs. Basically anything you can get in a store is in one of these machines that you are likely to see every 100 meters.
Japan is also home to the world's first "smart" vending machine at Shinagawa station in Tokyo that spies on you to appropriately "quench your thirst by taking your photo" (Relaxnews via The Independent).