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Do kids still get excited for quarter toy vending machines?

Photo from Reddit

Do they?

When I was a kid, I loved checking out the toy vending machine selection any time I went to Walmart, or a grocery store, heck even my local pizza place had a few! They were everywhere—and though the wares may not always have been good (lookin’ at you, gumball machine), it was always a good time to at least check ’em out and discover the cool toys locked inside.

(Again, unless it was just candy. I was the one weird kid in the world who didn’t like candy.)

I don’t know when I stopped doing that. Maybe around the time I stopped being excited by toys in general. You know, growing up and all that. Tragic shit, am I right?

I recently remembered these machines in general, so I started paying attention for them again—and they still exist! I still see a few of them in my local Walmart entrance, and at the grocery store exit, and so on. But not as many units as I remember being in such places 20+ years ago. Like, where there once may have been eight of those suckers all in a line, now there would only be four.

Maybe they really did go somewhat out of style, then. Or maybe inflation has turned these 25¢ lottery machines into something that isn’t as profitable as it once was.

I’m glad they still exist, though. The small janky toys themselves may not interest me anymore, but I’m glad they’re still around for today’s kids to get all excited about.

What about you all? What are your favorite quarter toy vending machine memories?


  1. joimassat

    I don’t think I was ever excited for these, but I usually did have to look at them, just out of curiosity. I’d chew the chewing gum, then notice how quickly it lost its flavor. I would see Runts and shake my head. I think at some point, some parent bought someone a Pokemon Mew bouncy ball, maybe from a machine like these, that hung around in the house for a while.

    But the greatest finds were Happy Bunny sticker machines, not because I liked them or saw Happy Bunnies anywhere else, but because…I dunno, I never saw Happy Bunny stickers anywhere else? I guess that really is why? Today, those same mottoes would probably be glued onto Ironic 50s Housewife stickers, or magnets, and sold at craft stores.

    Today the legacy of quarter vending machines lives on in the more generic candy-only machines you still see out in the wild and the gachapon machines popping up in GameStops and arcades. I think little blind bags are what’s replacing the non-candy vending machines — I assume it’s harder to find places in the middle of Mall No-Man’s-Land (maybe there are more and more freestanding stall-stores manned by actual people?) so getting a little spot in an existing hobby store via a little display box is the way to go.

    Do you like any sweet things? I think you ate a waffle once.

    • Jesse

      Bouncy balls were my favorite things to get from these machines! I straight up had a collection of them, if you can call a little plastic bag of rubber balls of various colors/designs a collection.

      I like some sweet things occasionally, but by and large, usually not. I’ve lost count of the number of people who seemed to take it as a personal offense that I don’t like chocolate. (And thus I try to downplay it and evade it if it ever comes up, because wow people why do you care so much)

      If that’s not scandalous enough for you, here’s another hot take: waffles without syrup >>> waffles with syrup 😎

      • joimassat

        I hate it when people get jokingly-not-jokingly offended about me, like, not watching Star Wars as a kid or whatever. They also mock me for not liking cheese.

        Hot take?! More like healthy take. I prefer waffles with honey because I prefer just about everything with honey. But if I had to pick a generic favorite sweet-flavor, it would be chocolate. Such is the life we lead

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