Vending machines in America: They're pretty much everywhere you don't want to be. Airports. Hospital waiting rooms. Down a long, fluorescent-lit hall in your office at ten o'clock at night as you curse your boss for another late night and try to cobble together dinner from a bag of chips, some powdered donuts and a Coke. Which is what makes the Village Voice's compilation of "10 Wild and Crazy Food Vending Machines" from around the world so refreshing, from a Chinese contraption that allows you to try to catch your own live hairy crab with a robotic claw to the Dutch automat that serves up croquettes.
These machines take the soft, mechanical whir and buzz of food being automatically dispensed that we've come to associate with the most banal realities of modern grown-up life and remind us instead of what was so fun about vending machines when we were kids: for a matter of pocket change, you get a kind of mini-carnival of techno-gadget wizardry that ends with something yummy.
Unless, of course, you're at that machine in China and you've got to go home and stir-fry your hairy crab.