Vending machines have been a popular convenience item in businesses around the world for some time. They provide an easy and quick way for companies to provide snacks and beverages to employees, customers, and visitors while on-the-go. In fact, there are approximately 2.08 vending machines in the U.S. alone as of 2020, producing $23 billion in revenue every year! Additionally, vending machines today are becoming even more convenient by offering cashless payment options. If you don’t have a vending machine yet, it’s time to consider it as a convenient offering to the people frequenting your business.
Many often wonder which snacks and beverages to choose for their vending machine. Of course, you will want to choose items that are popular and satisfied peoples’ snack preferences. 360Connect looked into the most popular snacks and drinks for vending machines nationwide. We also surveyed our own team to find out 360Connect’s personal preferences. Here are the results!
It’s important to include a variety of snacks in your vending machine, to cater to a variety of consumer preferences. Keep in mind that some people may use a vending machine for a quick, on-the-go healthy snack when they don’t have time to cook or stop for lunch. Others may want a decadent treat during their day. Healthy snack options accounted for 7.6% of vending machine sales in 2018, so don’t forget to include your nutritious items! Here are the most popular vending machine snacks ranked in order.
1. Snickers Bar
The number one snack preference for vending machines in the U.S. is Snickers bars! Are you surprised? Many people crave a sweet, chocolatey treat mid-day, right between lunch and dinner. In fact, NBC News rated Snickers bars as the most popular U.S. Candy bar in 2012, grossing over $400 million in sales every year. Woah!
2. Clif Bars
Clif bars are another crowd favorite for vending machines, and it makes sense! They are great for either breakfast or a midday snack, and provide 10g of protein. This is great for people who either want something nutritious or a meal replacement, since they provide your body with what it needs to sustain a busy work day. Some of the most popular Clif Bar flavors include:
- White Chocolate Macadamia Nut
- Crunchy Peanut Butter
- Chocolate Chip
- Blueberry Crisp
- Chocolate Brownie
Ever been running late to work or an appointment and missed breakfast? We’ve all been there! Sometimes, you just wish there was a convenient breakfast option at your fingertips when you’re on-the-go. That’s why pop-tarts are so popular in vending machines across the country! According to tons of reviews, the most popular pop-tart flavors are Frosted Strawberry and Brown Sugar Cinnamon.
4. Sun Chips
It’s hard to resist a good bag of potato chips. It’s a great lunch time snack and it goes with just about anything! While Lays potato chips are a popular option, people today love Sun Chips because they’re lower in fat, some in lots of unique flavors, and are 100% whole grain. Plus, they taste great!
5. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
It’s no secret that Americans love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! It’s very likely you’ve seen Reese’s in a vending machine before. Did you know Reese’s is the 3rd most popular snack brand in the nation? According to a YouGov survey, 81% of respondents had a positive opinion of Reese’s while only 6% had a negative opinion. And guess which generation loves Reese’s cups the most? Baby boomers!
6. Planters Trail Mix
I don’t know about you, but I love a snack that’s both sweet and salty. Trail mix is a great addition to any vending machine because it’s non-perishable, provides protein and fiber, and still gives you that touch of sweetness that you’re craving. Planters “Nuts and Chocolate” Trail Mix snack bags are a moderate 2 oz and include peanuts, m&ms, raisins, and almonds.
7. Granola Bars
Granola bars are another great versatile vending machine item because they can be eaten for breakfast or an afternoon snack. They’re also much more nutritious compared to other common vending machine items, which is great for those who are looking for something healthy. Popular granola bars found in vending machines today include Nature’s Valley, Kind bars, and Chewy granola bars.
It’s a good idea to include at least one type of cracker in your vending machine. While Cheez-its may not be the healthiest cracker in the world, it’s probably the most popular. They’ve been a staple in grocery stores and vending machines for 100 years. There are conveniently sized 1.5 oz Cheez-its snack bags that are a perfect choice for vending machines.
9. Chex Mix
We all know someone who loves a salty snack. Chex Mix are one of the most popular snacks for vending machines because they contain fewer calories than other salty snacks like Fritos and Doritos. Plus, like trail mix, they give us a variety of tastes all in one!
You can’t go wrong with adding pretzels to your vending machine. Pretzels are popular snacks because they are relatively healthy, low fat, and low-calorie. They also provide complex carbohydrates and that boost of energy that so many of us need during a midday slump. Some popular pretzel brands include Rold Gold, Snyder’s, and even Goldfish Pretzels!
Don’t forget the drinks! Many businesses utilize vending machines in order to offer a snack to employees and customers, but they forget the importance of offering beverages, too. Drinks are the most profitable category for vending machine offerings, making up 31.2% of all vending machine purchase every year. Similar to snack offerings, you will want to make sure your vending machine is stocked with a variety of drink options – including caffeinated and non-caffeinated, carbonated and non-carbonated, and sweet and non-sweet drinks. Here are the most popular drinks for vending machines ranked!
1. Water bottles
Every vending machine that offers drinks should include water bottles. Even though water may be seemingly easy to find for free, lots of people frequenting your business may have forgotten their water bottle at home and need to stay hydrated while working or on-the-go. Some common brands of bottled water found in vending machines include Evian, Dasani, and Aquafina. By the way, if you want to offer water to employees and customers outside of a vending machine, you might want to consider a water service.
2. Energy drinks
There are definitely times when we just need that extra boost of energy to get us through the day! That’s why energy drinks are popular items in vending machines in businesses everywhere. They appeal to people who don’t like coffee but still need their caffeine fix. Some popular energy drinks to stock in your vending machine include Red Bull and Monster. There are also healthier energy drink alternatives these days, such as Yerbamate.
3. Cold Coffee
Coffee is the go-to workday drink of Americans! Workplaces everywhere are providing coffee because of its popularity and benefits. However, if you don’t offer piping hot coffee to your employees and visitors, you may want to add cold coffee alternatives to your vending machine. Oftentimes, people will be running late and miss out on their cup of morning joe. Cold coffee at the touch of a button is likely just what these folks are looking for when they’re on the move! Some options for cold coffee include cold brew and iced coffee blends. By the way, if you want to offer coffee to employees and customers outside of a vending machine, you might want to consider a coffee service.
4. Vitamin Water
Sports drinks are popular items for vending machines because they are flavored (compared to plain water) and do a good job of hydrating you throughout the day. Plus they are healthier than soda or other sugary drinks. Vitamin water is a popular sports drink for vending machines because it provides vitamins and electrolytes and comes in many tasty flavors.
Carbonated soda is a must-have in vending machines. A Gallup poll reported that almost 50% of Americans like to drink soda at least once a day! There are tons of options to choose from when it comes to soda. Additionally, you can choose to provide either cans or plastic bottles. The most popular sodas for vending machines include:
- Dr. Pepper
- Mountain Dew
6. Diet Soda
Be sure to include diet options for sodas, as well! Some soda lovers prefer the healthier, lower-calorie version of the sweet, carbonated drink. Gallup researchers found that even though less people in America prefer diet soda to regular soda, more women and elderly people preferred diet. It’s best to provide options for either preference. We recommend adding Diet Coke or Pepsi to your machine!
Gatorade is another popular sports drink for vending machines. It’s a household name and a great electrolyte-replenisher. It’s no wonder tons of people expect to see Gatorade in a vending machine. Gatorade comes in lots of flavors, such as Orange, Lemon-Lime, Fruit Punch, and more. Plus, you can add Gatorade Zero as a healthy alternative, which is a zero-calorie version of the popular drink.
8. Iced Tea
Remember that not everybody likes carbonated beverages. Some prefer a cold, refreshing drink like iced tea. There are lots of choices when it comes to iced teas that will be sure to sell from your vending machine. For instance, you can offer sweet tea, unsweet tea, and green tea. As far as brands, you might consider:
- Gold Peak Tea
- Lipton Tea
- Honest Tea
Seltzer (aka carbonated water) is becoming a more and more popular drink today. As of 2017, seltzer sales were up by 42% and were not slowing down. Part of the reason seltzer is so popular today is because many brands are releasing new flavored seltzers. Some popular brands of seltzers you should consider adding to your vending machine are:
- La Croix
Lemonade is another sweet, refreshing vending machine favorite. When it comes to stocking your machine with lemonade products, you can choose from classic sweetened lemonade, diet or low-sugar lemonade, pink lemonade, and even raspberry lemonade! Some common lemonade brands found in vending machines include:
- Minute Maid
- Simply Lemonade
360Connect’s Top Picks
We surveyed our team to find out which snacks and drinks they prefer when using a vending machine at work! Here’s the results -
Top Snacks for 360Connect:
- Clif Bars
Top drinks for 360Connect:
Do you own or looking into owning a vending machine? Make sure to look at the best locations for vending machines to ensure a great profit.
If you are looking for a cost-efficient way to offer snacks and drinks to employees, customers, or visitors at your workplace, we recommend comparing options for vending machines. Vending machines will give you the most amount of options to offer on a low budget. Get started by reading our Vending Machine Buyer’s Guide. Then, compare up to 5 quotes - for free - by visiting our online comparison tool!