Performas Top 10 Worst Vending Machines! Part 2

Check out Part 1 Here


Looking over vending machine manufacturer’s websites and resellers sites it seems as though the vending industry is filled with gleaming machines devoid of faults. However, this industry is full of machines that vary from the unintentionally bad to the downright deplorable. The following is the second part of a top 10 list of the machines that we think are simply the worst of the worst. Enjoy!

5: Vendesign Snack Shack

Vendesign Snack ShackThe Vendesign Snack Shack is a leftover from the bygone era of fun-size candy vending. As vendible product dimensions and prices changed, they just couldn’t keep up, and Vendesigns oddly-designed Snack Shack was no exception. A square base with a clear cylinder display head is best described as “odd” or perhaps “off balance”. The display heads came in various sizes, meaning the top of the machine could be very tall on a squat square base. It was a strange machine to look at, and was supported for a very short time before it was discontinued. This one has been relegated to the vending scrap heap of time.


4: Vend-A-Pop

VendapopVend-A-Pop, a Business Opportunity package offered the buyer a fun and fast way to sell lollipops to their customers. However, the Vend-A-Pop offered a lot of technical challenges which bulk machine designers have yet to properly overcome. For starters, the products odd dimensions with a stick meant they had to be loaded vertically into spring-loaded or gravity fed columns, depending on the model of the machine. This was time consuming to say the least. This problem was compounded by the machines troublesome spring-loaded coin mechanisms, and a common issue of loosened wrappers jamming entire columns, which required the operator to dig through the whole machine to get it loose. In the end, once the Biz-Op disappeared, these machines disappeared from all but a handful of routes.


3: Magic Gumball’s Magic Air Show

Magic Air ShowWhen a vendor looks for “New” gum-ball machines, they’re usually looking for something built well, that will make a good return on their investment. Maybe the vendor will invest in something a little fancier like a spiral, or an interactive machine, or maybe even an electronic like a Wowie-Zowie for that one really big account. However, I have no idea what customer Magic Gumball has in mind for the Magic Air Show machine. With a “New” price of $1,795.00, this machines price is best described as astronomical for what it is. Granted, it has a track inside that lets a series of balls race about inside of it, but I still cannot fathom how something like this came to be- how do you market something like this? I can’t really speak for the Magic Air Show’s operation, or it’s longevity, or anything because I’ve never seen one in the field, and no other vendor I’ve ever spoken to about it has ever seen one in the field. Compared to every other single gum-ball machine, even the electronic one’s like Oscars Wild Ride or the aforementioned Wowie-Zowie this thing is a failure. Short of a super-high-traffic airport food court, I cannot think of a place where you would make a return on that investment before something inside of it broke or the machine became vandalized incurring additional costs. It’s bad even on paper, and that’s downright scary.

2: Mini Snack Munch Box Fun Size Candy Machine

Mini Snacker Munch Box Model 3Mini Snack was a Business opportunity who jumped on the fun-size candy bar vending craze. They offered their solution- the Munch Box- a mechanical vending machine featuring all the best parts- from the coin mechs, to the vend mechanism design, to the large display panel that showed off the products. At first they worked great, but a few design flaws manifested that really took the machines down. First, they were easily jammed by foreign objects- one small item on the internal track and the whole machine was out. If one selection became jammed, the whole machine would be out as well. To further the problem, numerous redesigns to the coin mechanism from a drop-through, to a “Northwestern” style coin mechanism, to a strange hybrid of the two left a lot of strange machines behind when Mini Snack finally disappeared. The machines cannot vend fun size candy bars anymore, and lacking any substitutes makes them useless as route machines, or anything other than scrap metal.

1: The Antares/Genesis/PlanetAntares Refreshment Center

Universally declared the worst vending machine of all time by the vending communities, the Refreshment center, manufactured under various Biz-Ops, though normally referred to under the Antares label, encompass everything bad about a vending machine. The machines are based on a small refrigerator, with a door-mounted mechanical snack machine. The entire machine relies on mechanical  coin mechanisms, a confusing vend procedure, an unusual loading procedure, and most of all it needs to be monitored. Closely. In order to access the soda machine portion, the customer must open the refrigerator door which doubles as the snack machine (which isn’t an intuitive process at all). This means you have a refrigerator with a sub-par compressor on board working furiously to keep up if the door is left open too long, or held open by some obstruction. These units are notoriously easy to vandalize and rob, with numerous YouTube videos showing how to trick the units into vending free soda and snacks, how to break into the machine to unload entire columns of products, and so forth. Couple in the rest of the problems a regular mechanical snack machine has, and you have a terrible, terrible vending machine. A very wise vendor once said the Antares Refreshment Center was good for exactly 2 things- as scrap metal and as a boat anchor, and noting all of it’s defects, flaws, and notorious history, I agree.

I’ve gotten several suggestions and nominations for more bad vending machines. They were all bad in many regards, but not quite bad enough to make the existing list. So, there will be an “honorable mentions” follow up sometime soon.

If you have a “bad” vending machine and need help, or just want to talk shop with vending industry experts, come and check us out at the Bulk Vending Forum!

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed do not reflect the views of, it’s sponsors, it’s readership or members, and is for entertainment purposes only.


  1. The Bite A Mint machine has to be the worst of a bad lot. It never worked particularly well , prone to jamming and would refuse coins for no obvious reason. I’ve kept one on the shelf just to remind me. The best one that never saw the market I based on the Northern Beaver, it looked good and the prototype worked well but I lost interest .

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