person making a selection from a set of three vending machines

10 Strange and Surprising Snacks from Office Vending Machines Around the World.

Do you ever wonder what snacks and drinks you can find in office vending machines around the world? From chocolate-covered grasshoppers to pickled herring, office vending machines can be filled with some of the strangest snacks and drinks that you never thought existed!

In this blog post, we look at 10 of the most surprising snacks and drinks that you can find in office vending machines around the world. Get ready to discover some unusual treats!

The United States of America

When it comes to office vending machines, the USA is a powerhouse, with more than 4.5 million vending machines in the country. While these machines are full of classic drinks and snacks, there’s a few uniquely American products that you’re unlikely to see in vending machines elsewhere in the world. Some of these unique snacks and drinks include Root Beer, Pop Tarts and Flamin’ Hot Funyuns.

One of the reasons why these products are so beloved in the US is because of the country’s love for all things super sweet and super salty. But they’re not quite unusual enough to make our pick of strange and surprising snacks from the great US of A. To reach this level, we’re looking at one of the country’s quirkiest delicacies, and one which you rarely see on other shores.

It’s peanut butter jelly time – that’s right, in the United States you may just come across vending machines that offer fully formed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. You’ll find your standard range of sandwiches in a fresh food vending machine, with BLTs, ham and cheese and chicken salad sandwiches, but next time you’re taking a trip Stateside, keep your eyes out for this more unusual vending machine snack.

Whether you’re in the mood for a sweet soda or a savoury snack, there is something for everyone from the world’s largest market for vending snacks and drinks. God bless America!

Japan

In Japan, you can find a range of snacks and drinks in workplace vending machines, but one of the most popular is green tea. Green tea has long been a staple in Japanese culture, and vending machines make it incredibly convenient to get your daily dose of caffeine on the go.

But it’s not just regular green tea that you’ll find in Japanese vending machines. You can also find matcha green tea, which is finely ground green tea powder that has been traditionally used in tea ceremonies. Matcha is a bit of an acquired taste for those unfamiliar with the unique flavour, but it has a loyal following in Japan and has become more popular globally in recent years.

Green tea is not the only popular drink you’ll find in Japanese vending machines. There are also a variety of flavoured and carbonated drinks, such as melon soda and lemon tea. And for snacks, you can find a wide variety of rice crackers, savoury snacks, and even canned bread. Yes, you read that correctly – bread, in a can.

With the extreme pace and work-oriented culture in major cities of Japan, the vending industry is a crucial source of on-the-go snacks and drinks to millions of workers. So, if you’re ever in Japan, make sure to check out their extensive range of vending machines to experience some of the country’s unique culinary delights.

South Korea

When it comes to workplace vending, South Korea takes things to a whole new level. Not only are vending machines everywhere in the country, but they also offer some of the most unique office vending machines snacks and drinks you’ll ever come across.

One snack that stands out in South Korean workplace vending machines is ramen. This isn’t your standard Pot Noodle affair, either – they come in a cup with a built-in heating element that boils water when you add it to the cup.

These vending machines offer a variety of ramen flavours, from spicy to mild, and even vegetarian options. And the best part is that you don’t need any other tools or equipment to make the noodles – just a bit of hot water from the machine.

While it may seem strange to have ramen in a vending machine, it’s actually a popular and convenient option for busy office workers who don’t have time to leave the office for lunch or dinner. And with South Korea’s love for instant noodles, it’s no surprise that it’s made its way into the world of workplace vending.

Leading ramen noodle brands in South Korea generated annual sales of more than $1.7bn in 2019, with more than 4 billion units being consumed in the domestic market alone. It’s big business, and it’s a market that the Koreans know a thing or two about. If you’re fortunate enough to visit the country, make sure you take some time out of your day to enjoy the ramen noodle vending experience.

China

In China, vending machines have taken the office food and drink industry by storm. These machines can be found on almost every street corner and inside office buildings, offering a wide range of snacks and beverages to hungry and thirsty workers.

One of the most unique office food and drink items found in Chinese vending machines is fried rice. Far from your expectation of vacuum packed, mass manufactured rice, this rice comes in small boxes with cutlery included to make it even more convenient to grab and go. The rice is often cooked with eggs, vegetables, and meat, making it a filling and tasty option.

In China you’re also likely to come across haw flakes, a sweet Chinese snack that is made from the fruit of the Chinese hawthorn. These sweets come in small discs, in brightly coloured packaging reminiscent of Chinese fireworks.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something different from the typical chips and candy bars, then give fried rice from a Chinese office vending machine and haw flakes a try. Who knows, you might just find a new favourite snack!

Taiwan

Out of all snacks from vending machines around the world, this is arguably the most contentious. Think ‘Marmite’ levels of contention – you’ll either love it or hate it.

One of Taiwan’s most popular street foods is stinky tofu. Yes, you read that right. This pungent dish is made from fermented tofu and has a distinct odour that can be overwhelming for some. It was even described by Reuters in an article on the delicacy as smelling like ‘a cross between burning garbage and body odour’.

However, locals swear by its delicious taste and can’t get enough of it. This Taiwanese favourite often comes with eggs, cabbage and vegetables, as well as coming in many distinct variants with different spices and herbs.  You’ll find it on supermarket shelves, as well as in your workplace vending machine.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try a truly unique snack, give it a go. You may just be pleasantly surprised by its savoury flavour. Be prepared though, as the garbage smell might not be quite what you were expecting!

Thailand

Thailand is famed for its curries. From a red penang to a masseman, the various red, green and yellow curry dishes are popular not just in Thailand’s domestic market but all over the world. You wouldn’t necessarily think that curry would be the right sort of product for a vending machine, but you’d be wrong. If you’re a worker in Thailand, it’s likely that you’ll be able to get your favourite curry from an office vending machine.

Thai curry is a delicious, spicy dish that is typically made with a mix of fresh vegetables, coconut milk, and a blend of herbs and spices. In the past, curry was often considered a street food that was only eaten by those who could not afford to dine at more upscale restaurants. However, with the advent of office vending machines, curry has become a popular snack for busy professionals who want a quick and tasty lunch.

When you purchase curry from an office vending machine in Thailand, you will typically receive a small plastic container filled with a hearty serving of curry. The container is designed to be microwaved, allowing you to heat up your meal in the office kitchen and consume it at your desk. Some vending machines even offer different types of curry, ranging from spicy green curry to savoury yellow curry.

While curry may seem like an unusual office vending machine snack to those outside of Thailand, it is a staple of Thai cuisine and a popular choice for many office workers in the country, even from a vending machine.

Italy

Arguably there’s no better place on Earth when it comes to finding great quality, delicious food and drink, than Italy. Despite the country’s incredible heritage of fresh pasta and meat dishes, Italy still knows how to do it right when it comes to vending machines. The vending industry in Italy is booming, with countless machines found in workplaces across the country.

But what sets Italy apart from other countries when it comes to office food and drink? Well, for starters, there’s a big focus on healthy snacks, with options like fresh fruit and nuts readily available. However, it’s not all about being healthy – there are some unique and tasty snacks on offer too.

One popular item you might find in an Italian office vending machine is a crostata, a type of pastry filled with jam or custard. It’s the perfect sweet treat to enjoy with your mid-morning coffee. Another option is a piadina, a thin, Italian flatbread filled with cheese, meat and vegetables. You’re guaranteed to have an amazing dining experience based on the snacks in Italian vending machines. If anything, we’re a bit jealous…

When it comes to drinks, it’s all about the coffee. So it’s no surprise that Italian office vending machines often feature a wide variety of coffee options, from espressos to cappuccinos. But there’s also another classic Italian drink that you might find in vending machines – San Pellegrino. This fizzy mineral water is a staple in Italian households, and now you can enjoy it at work too.

Italian office vending machines offer a great selection of both healthy and indulgent snacks and drinks, and there’s no issue getting hold of the great food and drink that Italy is famous for. Whether you’re in the mood for something sweet or savoury, there’s something for everyone.

Indonesia

Vending has become a massive industry in Indonesia, with everything from snacks to hot meals available for purchase. However, when it comes to the most unique items found in workplace vending machines, nasi goreng is at the top of the list.

Nasi goreng is a staple dish in Indonesian cuisine, and it’s essentially fried rice that is seasoned with a blend of herbs and spices. The dish typically includes a mix of vegetables, chicken, shrimp, and soy sauce, and it’s a popular snack for workers who need a quick bite to eat during the day.

Nasi goreng vending machines can be found in various workplaces throughout Indonesia, and they are typically stocked with pre-packaged containers of the dish. It’s a convenient and affordable option for busy employees who don’t have time to leave the office for lunch.

But it’s not just nasi goreng that can be found in office vending machines in Indonesia. Other popular snacks and drinks include kopi susu (sweetened condensed milk coffee), keripik tempe (crispy fried soybean chips), and bottled sari kelapa (coconut water).

In Indonesia, workplace vending machines are more than just a source of sustenance. They’re a reflection of the country’s vibrant culinary culture and a convenient way for employees to stay fuelled and productive throughout the day.

India

One of the most beloved beverages in India is masala chai, a spicy and fragrant tea that is made with a blend of black tea leaves and aromatic spices like cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. It’s often enjoyed as a morning or afternoon pick-me-up and is typically served hot with a generous amount of milk and sugar.

In workplace vending machines in India, you can often find packets of instant masala chai mix that you can quickly prepare with hot water. These mixes contain a blend of tea, spices, and milk powder and can be a convenient and tasty option for busy workers who want a quick and flavourful beverage.

Aside from masala chai, workplace vending machines in India can also offer a range of sweet and savoury snacks that are popular in the country. These can include samosas, crispy fried snacks filled with spiced potatoes or vegetables; murukku, a crunchy spiral-shaped snack made from rice flour and spices; and bhelpuri, a tangy and spicy snack made from puffed rice, chopped vegetables, and tamarind chutney.

For those with a sweet tooth, Indian vending machines may also offer sweets like ladoos, small round balls made from chickpea flour and sweetened with sugar and nuts; and jalebis, a deep-fried pretzel-shaped dessert that is soaked in syrup and flavoured with saffron and cardamom.

In India, workplace vending machines are more than just a convenience for busy employees—they also offer a taste of the country’s rich and diverse cuisine. Whether you’re in the mood for a spicy cup of masala chai or a crunchy snack, the vending machines in India have got you covered.


The world’s rich tapestry of cultures gives us much to enjoy, and with food and vending machines this is no exception. Whatever your tastes and whichever corner of the world you find yourself in, office vending machines are on hand to give you a true taste of the nation.