Thou Shalt Snack

3 08 2010

Whoever made the first vending machine must have been smiling all the way to the bank… well, I suppose there were many ‘who’s involved, since it was probably a company, but I’m sure you know where I’m going with that thought.

When I’m not busy working, which I am mostly occupied with of late, I try to think about where things came from originally, and reflect on the impact they have on our lives today. Case in point, the vending machine at the office.

Vending machines are a curse, really, in the sense that they are an open display of one of our humanly weaknesses, standing there as a mocking point of truth and derision. Yes, that sounds pretty harsh, doesn’t it? But if you listen closely, you can almost hear the machine laugh at you – because it knows you’re craving those goodies, that you shouldn’t really have them, and that it makes you feel hyper-aware to the point of believing oh-my-gods-people-are-watching-me-what-will-they-think-I’m-a-slave-to-bad-calorie-induced-treats!

I like to dramatize, yet you know what I’m saying is true.

Vending machines, if used too often, can become a sort of vice. They should have a sign in offices: “Thou shalt not drink from the fountain of artificial sweetness nor eat from the tree of sugar laden hip calories, if thou hope to maintain thy healthy, shapely form”. Round is a shape, but I’m not willing to fall into that category just yet.

Still, I decided to indulge myself with a sweet treat, something small (and not too expensive) to keep me going while at work. Sugar can offer a good boost and get you going, though one must bear in mind it only does so for the shortest amount of time, which results in a slump that might make you feel worse than before. Be that as it may, I’ve been working since last Monday, and I couldn’t really sleep last night because my brain didn’t want to switch off, so by 1PM it felt like a little bit of sugar could go a long way in assisting me for four more hours.

And then the vending machine gods laughed.

I think vending machines are made to be evil. Seriously. Forget the whole guilt-trip thing, believing that people judge you because you only seem to snack on ‘bad’ things or because it’s a things that plays to your weaknesses. A completely different reason vending machines are evil is due to their programming, which I believe is encoded for the very purpose of being faulty and, ergo, annoy cravees (or should I type that out crave-ees – those who crave… or should it actually be cravers?! I’m busy confusing myself. Leave it to me to want to create my own word…) Back to my story: after opting for something small to nibble on, said sugary treat being the least expensive (I’m not a cheapskate, but you wouldn’t believe the prices on some of these machines!), the machine decided that my money tasted good enough for it to keep… yet it neglected to supply me with my purchase.

And it always feels likes it just had to happen to you, doesn’t it?

Do you actually know when the first vending machine was invented? According to Wikipedia, “[T]he first recorded reference to a vending machine is found in the work of Hero of Alexandria, a first-century engineer and mathematician. His machine accepted a coin and then dispensed a fixed amount of holy water. When the coin was deposited, it fell upon a pan attached to a lever. The lever opened up a valve which let some water flow out. The pan continued to tilt with the weight of the coin until it fell off, at which point a counter-weight would snap the lever back up and turn off the valve.” Amazing, huh?

Although I do find it extremely ironic that it was created to dispense holy water… as if you give an offering to the great vending machine gods in order to be blessed with this holy gift of such pure water… *pfft* Uh-huh…

Wikipedia goes on to say that “[D]espite this early precedent, vending machines had to wait for the Industrial Age before they came to prominence. The first modern coin-operated vending machines were introduced in London, England in the early 1880s, dispensing post cards. The first vending machine in the U.S. was built in 1888 by the Thomas Adams Gum Company, selling gum on train platforms. The idea of adding simple games to these machines as a further incentive to buy came in 1897 when the Pulver Manufacturing Company added small figures which would move around whenever somebody bought some gum from their machines. This simple idea spawned a whole new type of mechanical device known as the “trade stimulators”. The birth of slot machines and pinball is ultimately rooted in these early devices.”

I still prefer the original holy water scenario. Appease the gods, and thou shalt be rewarded…

…or not, in my case. Sometimes the gods work in mysterious ways. Maybe I should offer my soul next time.

"Give us this day our daily snackage..."

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3 responses

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