Are Your Vending Machines ADA Compliant?



In July 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued new regulations that require ADA compliance for vending machines. These requirements aimed to make vending machines more accessible to people with disabilities, and the prominent industry track group, the National Automatic Merchandising Assoc. (NAMA), strongly supports the goals of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). What does this mean to you? Here are just a few things that you need to know:

  • New ADA guidelines went in effect March 15, 2012 and are applicable to:
    • Public entities such as state or local government and any of its departments, agencies or instrumentalities
    • Private entities that operate public accommodations such as retail, hotels, hospitals, recreational facilities and schools
    • Safe harbor rules may apply; You do not have to replace existing vending machines with new ADA compliant machines unless the location undergoes alterations or the vending machines are removed, re-installed and/or upgraded
  • Operating parts such as the coin/bill acceptor and product delivery box must be no higher than 48” and no less than 15” from the floor
  • One of each type of vending machine must comply (i.e., one beverage, one snack, etc.)
  • Courts may award monetary damages and impose penalties of up to $55,000 for a first violationADA Compliancy

Please consult legal counsel on how the ADA rules affect your facility or contact us if you have any further questions!

Snacking around the World

The variety of snacks you can get just by walking into your average grocery store can be pretty mesmerizing. You can get chips that come in a plethora of flavors; you can get pretzels (sweet or salty); you can get candy or chocolate bars; you can get cookies or crackers; you can get nuts or seeds, and the list really goes on endlessly. In the US, chips and cookies are the staple snack, but around the world, palates and flavors differ entirely.

We brought in some unusual snacks from around the world to the office and had everyone give them a try. Then we had everyone guess which country the snacks originated from. It was a blast seeing everyone’s amusement with the kinds of snacks we laid out. Here’s what went down.

We managed to get some of the snacks from local ethnic markets in Des Moines, but had to order the rest online because they were too difficult to find.

Boxes from Amazon

Country-labeled PlatesCountry-labeled Plates 2

First up, they tried some Dela Rosa, a sweet marzipan peanut candy from Mexico. They came individually packed in little round pieces, and it was a powdery consistency that pretty much broke once we opened the little wrappers. No one could guess where this was from, but we definitely weren’t expecting that level of sweetness from it.

De La Rosa box De La Rosa open box

Next, everyone had a go at TimTams. I think these were the safest looking food on the table, and everyone just loved them. We even had people asking for seconds. This Australian chocolate cookie snack is a definite must-try :) They are available on Amazon in the US!

Tim Tam Tim Tam Open

These little burgers are the cutest thing you’ll ever eat, AND they are delicious! At first, they seemed a little curious, but when everyone had one, we were very much immediate fans of Every Burger! This Japanese snack is actually a rich chocolate sandwiched between mini wheat cookies. Who else would come up with little chocolate burger snacks, other than the Japanese :)

Every Burger Every Burger PacketEvery Burger Opened

Dried cuttlefish is actually a pretty typical Asian snack, especially in China. It is very much just plain dried cuttlefish, and it has quite a sweet tang. Unfortunately. it also packs in a heavy fishy smell that had everyone on their feet before trying a tiny piece of this. As it turns out, most Americans probably will have a hard time overcoming that smell long enough to enjoy this interesting snack, although there were one or two people at the office who actually enjoyed this one!

Dried Cuttle Fish Dried Cuttle Fish packaging

These squid-flavored peanuts are common on Korea (although this packet is from Japan). They seemed a little peculiar at first, but everyone seemed to enjoy them. In fact, they were really addictive and the bag was gone before we could get proper pictures of the little squid-peanut balls :)

Roasted Squid-flavored Peanuts

Next on the menu, Muruku from India! This was the easiest to guess which country it came from, and everyone got it right. It has a distinct spice and curry taste and is a common savory, crunchy snack in India. Definitely a simple, but flavor-packed snack to try if you ever get the chance !

Muruku Muruku pieces

This last snack is a fun walk down memory lane for 90s kids in Malaysia and Singapore. No one got this guess right, but they were very much amused with its ramen-ness.

Mamee Monster Mamee Monster Opened

That was a real fun activity to have in the office. What other interesting snacks have you tried from around the world? Let us know, and maybe we’ll try them in the next round :)

Country Flags Country Flags Country Flags Country Flags

8 Valentine’s Day Ideas that Both of You Will Appreciate

8 Valentine's Day Ideas

  1. Breakfast in Bed
    How often does anyone get to enjoy breakfast in bed? Not very often! But this is a great opportunity to impress him/her. Here are a few Valentine’s Breakfast ideas.
    Breakfast in Bed
  2. Surprise Him/Her with A Decorated Room!
    Surprises don’t have to be all out there, even small gestures, like decorating his/her room is as sweet as ever. And you don’t need to spend much on all the pink deco in the stores that you see, just make some yourself! Boost your imagination with these DIY Decor Ideas.
    Decorate their Room
  3. Make a Homemade Valentine’s Card
    Cards, flowers and chocolates hike up in prices over Valentine’s week. Although they are classic Valentine’s Day gifts, nothing shows how much you care more than a homemade card from the heart. Check out these simple card ideas to make beautiful cards with what you have at home.
    Make a homemade card
  4. Go for a Picnic
    Most people plan ahead for days and weeks for Valentines dinner, but most overlook lunch. Why not plan a picnic for lunch and be creative with your location choice! If it’s nice out, head to a park or to the zoo! If it’s rainy or too cold, you could even have a picnic indoors! Here are a few ideas for you if you need some inspiration for outdoor picnics or indoor picnics.
    Go for a picnic
  5. Spend the Afternoon Making Gifts for Each Other
    Instead of buying expensive presents for each other, how about spending the afternoon showing off your creativity and also getting to spend time with your significant other? It’ll be fun! Need some inspiration for crafty gifts? Click here.
    Make gifts for one another
  6. Cook a Wholesome Dinner Together
    It can be really difficult to get reservations for dinner on Valentine’s Day, and eating out can get pretty pricey too. This year, stay home and cook dinner together! That way, you both have more options and it’s a lot more fun than waiting for someone else to cook your food. Don’t cook very often? That’s okay! Check out this YouTube Playlist or this Recipe Menu for more ideas.
    Cook dinner together
  7. Take a Stroll Under the Stars
    Now that dinner is over, don’t go straight home; head outside for a walk under the pretty stars with your significant other! It’s good to walk a little after meals AND it’s definitely going to be a romantic time well spent together :)Take a stroll at night
  8. Send a Care Package
    In a long distance relationship or busy throughout some period on Valentine’s Day? Send over a care package to show them how much you love and miss them! You could pick & choose one from the options there are online OR you could make one on your own! Here are some Care Package ideas.
    Send a care package

That’s our list! You also need to check out this really cool Coke Valentine’s Vending Machine which only appears to couples :)


Happy Valentine's Day!

Apple Pay Anyone?

Apple Pay Header

After the release of the iPhone 6, one of Apple’s most talked-about new features is Apple Pay. There has been a lot of buzz in the market regarding the new application for our phones, and we thought it’d be a worthy topic to discuss.

Did you know though, that these wireless payment systems like Apple Pay and Google Wallet are not the first of their kind? The Nokia Communicator, released in 1996, could be considered one of the first smartphones in the world. The Finns were actually the first people to use these Communicators to wirelessly make payments at vending and parking machines. Basically what they would do was send a text message to a particular machine and the payment would be billed to their service provider later.

Nokia Communicator Series

So what about Apple Pay – how does that work? The setup is fairly simple; you can add credit/debit cards to your Passbook application by keying the details in manually, or by taking a photo of your card itself. Once your card has been verified, Apple Pay is then ready to be used in stores and even for in-app purchases. In participating stores, all you need to do at checkout is select the card you want to use and hold your iPhone over the NFC (near-filed communication) system with your finger (registered with Touch ID) over the home button. Voila! Then when a payment is complete, you will be notified by a beep, vibration and a check mark on your screen. Check out this video from Walgreens to see how it works:

Seems simple doesn’t it? But of course, with everything there are its individual benefits and drawbacks. Let’s talk about a few of them that we’ve been noticing in reviews all across the Internet.

Apple Pay Pros & Cons


  • It’s simple and easy to use. It acts as an all-in-one application where all your cards are stored and all you need to do is hold your phone out to make payments in stores with NFC systems at their checkout stations
  • You can even make app and in-app purchases with it
  • Apple Pay uses “tokenization” in storing card information, which is a security feature that allows each credit card’s number to be substituted with a different ID number for every transaction. This ID is the information that merchant’s receive on their point-of-sale systems when customers make payments.
  • To make payments using Apple pay, you require Touch ID (fingerprint verification)

Potential Drawbacks:

  • Lack of participation of merchants. Sure there are a ton of merchants that already accept Apply Pay, but there are still a ton more that need to adopt to idea
  • Only certain credit cards work with Apple Pay, and you might need the latest Apple devices for it to actually work
  • The ‘Find My iPhone’ feature can be used to quickly suspend payments from your phone, but in order for that to work, the phone must be receiving cellular or Wi-Fi signals, which means if phone is switched off, you won’t be able to do it
  • It is definitely convenient, but it can also be a security drawback of how simple it is to take a photo of your credit card to add it to your Passbook

What do you think of Apple Pay? Let us know if you’ve tried it out and how you like it :)

All Hallows’ Eve and Pumpkin Festivities!

Happy Halloween!

What do you get if you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter?

That’s right, it’s that time of the year again where we stock up candy inventories, plan out costumes, show off makeup skills and start to see pumpkin everywhere. And when we say “everywhere”, we really mean everywhere! We all know about the Pumpkin Spice Latte and the Pumpkin Oreos, but there are a couple of other interesting Halloween-themed products out there every year! Let’s take a look at some of them!

Cheetos Bag of Bones

What do you think of this first one? Cheetos Bag of Bones – they’re not exactly pumpkin-flavored, but they are definitely Halloween-themed! We bet they taste just as good as regular Cheetos and are extra fun to assemble!

Trident Pumpkin Spice LayersThe next one is Trident gum, what about these? Not sure what pumpkin gum is going to taste like and we haven’t seen these around, but we’re sure it’s going to be real interesting.

Jet-Puffed Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows

Jet-Puffed Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows! These have been around for a few years now and come out around this season every year. They’re pretty great actually – they make really interesting s’mores if you like pumpkin :)

TruMoo Halloween Milk

Orange Cream-Flavored Milk by TruMoo.This is new to us and is definitely a change from the usual full-cream milk or chocolate/strawberry milk. The color is very much appealing though! This will do great at the side with some pumpkin pie 😛

Disney Parks Pumpkin Fritters

Even the Disney Parks are getting into this holiday mood! Check out their menu add-ons and changes to fit in with this pumpkin-filled season here! These pumpkin fritters look amazing!

Ever wondered how pumpkins became associated with Halloween? It was brought to the US by the Irish; who had been carving “Jack-o’-Lanterns” for centuries. They say that the practice actually originated from an Irish myth about a man named “Stingy Jack”. If you’d like you learn more about Stingy Jack, click here. Don’t forget to share with us what other crazy Halloween snacks you’ve come across!

Have a Happy Halloween everyone!

Starbucks on a Truck?

Starbucks Food Truck Header

Food trucks are definitely one of those little things in life that anyone would look forward to. They’re great because they’re fun, affordable, local (usually) and, they’re delicious (most of the time). Believe it or not, recently, one of the largest brands in the world kick started their venture into the food truck arena.

Starbucks Food Truck

This August, Starbucks announced its plans for their mobile Starbucks stores to hit 3 colleges in the US. These lucky 3 campuses are Arizona State University, James Madison University and Coastal Carolina University. Starbucks and their longtime partner – Aramark, are running the Food Truck project together. Cathy Schlosberg, Vice President of Marketing for Aramark Education said “We believe the Starbucks mobile truck is a perfect opportunity to increase the convenience of our offerings and help meet our student body wherever they are in their busy days.“

Starbucks Food Truck

Starbucks Food Truck

We think this is a great opportunity for Starbucks to be exploring as they continue to grow in the ever-so competitive food and beverage markets now. Rumor has it that these are only pilots, and if the project is a success, we’ll soon be seeing more of these Starbucks Food Trucks around more campuses.

Making Better Choices at the Vending Machine

Healthy Choices Header

From candy bars to fresh apple slices, the options we get at vending machines today are as diversified as ever before. With the increasing trends in health and wellness among individuals nowadays, vendors are beginning to place healthier snack options in their machines. An article in the Des Moines Register the other day caught our eye. It was an interview with Janette Batts, a registered dietitian and license dietitian nutritionist with UnityPoint Health – Des Moines as she shared her tips on how to make healthier choices at a vending machine. We absolutely loved her notes and what she had to say about a lot of our favorite snacks, so we decided to put together a short list of tips to making these healthier choices.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Look out for snacks that have already been labelled as the “Healthier Choice”
  2. Make use of vending machines that provide you with nutritional information of the snacks they carry
  3. Stay away from foods with high trans-fats, MSG and added sugar
  4. Learn the names for different forms of sugar such as fructose, molasses, malt, sucrose
  5. Ingredients that you can’t pronounce can usually be avoided
  6. Use a Food App to get educated on the foods you consume – like MyFitnessPal
  7. Candy bars are great but everything needs to be done in moderation
  8. If you like snacking frequently, then plan for lighter meals and then have wholesome snacks in between

Here are also Janette’s list of Best & Worse snacks from Vending Machines and some other ideas for snacks to pack from home:

Healthier Picks at a Vending Machine

Best Snacks from the Vending Machine:

  • Original Baked SunChips
  • Special K Cracker Chips
  • BelVita Breakfast Biscuits
  • Nabisco Toasted Wheat Thins
  • Water
  • Aquafina FlavorSplash
  • Lipton Diet Green Tea
  • 100% Fruit Juices

Unhealthier Picks at a vending machine

Worst Snacks from the Vending Machine:

  • Frito-Lay Corn Chips
  • Grandma’s cookies
  • Skittles
  • Orange Crush
  • Starbucks Frappaccino
  • Whole Chocolate Milk

Snacks from Home

Healthy Snack Alternatives to bring from Home

  • Popcorn
  • String Cheese
  • Hard-cooked Egg
  • Peanut Butter on Whole-grain Crackers
  • Raw/Dark Coca powder-dusted Almonds (1 oz or 24nuts)
  • Milk
  • Nonfat Yogurt
  • Vegetables with Hummus or Greek Yogurt
  • Fruit
  • Peanut Butter on Whole-grain Tortilla

SUGAR RUSH: Candy Bars are the bomb!

Milky Way Candy Bar Header

A while ago we came across Mars’ limited edition Milky Way French Vanilla and Caramel and we were just absolutely craving the bar at the sound of it! Later, this limited edition candy bar was introduced into the vending and micro market channels and now, the bar is back! New, interesting flavors of common products are just so intriguing, plus, there have been so many of these kinds of products in the market recently – especially when something new is trending or when seasons/holidays are around the corner. Let’s take a closer look at the Milky Way French Vanilla and Caramel bar with some reviews

Milky Way Review 1 Milky Way Review 2

Milky Way also has Caramel Apple Minis during Halloween. What a fun themed candy bar for such a festive season! Has anyone given these a try? We can’t wait to get our hands on these this coming Halloween! Here’s a review of them from FatGuyFoodBlog:

Milky Way Review 3

Tell us what you think of this yummy candy bar if you’ve tried it!

Sharing is Caring; Share-A-Coke!


It’s created a lot of hype recently and people all over the US are scouring stores in search of their names on Coke bottles and cans. The Share-A-Coke campaign this Summer 2014 is a big hit and takes product personalization to the next level. Coke has not only replaced their logo with 250 of the most popular names on some of their 20oz bottles, but the Share A Coke Tour with over 500 stops nationally gives people the chance to personalize 2 of coke cans of their own – one for themselves and one for a loved-one or friend. For the tour, Coke has set up a ton of cool vending machines that print custom names on cans instantaneously and dispense them to you! There haven’t been any stops in Iowa but we’ve seen a ton of names in stores here and it’s extremely exciting! We’ve also seen in stores; 12oz coke cans with nicknames such as “BFF”, “Gamer”, “Legend”, “Buddy”, and “Star”, just to name a few.

The campaign has also created a huge amount of buzz on social media for Coke, especially with Instagram and Facebook. As of mid-July, there had already been more than 125,000 posts about the campaign.So all-in-all, we’d say the campaign has already seen success, not only with brand conversion among purchasers but mainly with the online community.


The Share-A-Coke Tour even came by Iowa State University a short while ago and we made a bunch of cans for ourselves and our friends! Here’s a picture of our cute customized cans:


Did you find your name? Let us know! Don’t forget to #shareacoke when you share your pictures on Instagram and Facebook

Sustainable Coffee Capsules – What’s Your Take On It?

Coffee Header

Single-serve coffee has become a thing of today. While the markets for freshly brewed coffee are still hot, the single-serve market is definitely heating up. According to MarketWatch; which is published by Dow Jones & Co., single-serve coffee still accounted for less than half the volume of regular coffee sales, but they were forecast to rise by 213% to an estimated $3.1 billion in 2012 from 2011. With the quick adoption of single-serve coffee by consumers, many large brands, and even new brands are joining this coffee trend.

Coffee Single Serve

Here’s an interesting thought though, with the rising concern for environmental sustainability, how in line is the concept of single-serve coffee with these concerns? Many of the disposable capsules or pods are usually made of plastic or another chemically engineered material that isn’t biodegradable. With people drinking so much coffee every day, week or month, this indefinitely accumulates a ton of waste, and not to mention, requires a large amount of resources to keep producing. Beanarella, a Swiss Coffee Company which was founded in 2011 is one of the players in the single-serve coffee market. Beanarella was granted the “Golden Idea Award 2013” for being the first company to create a compostable coffee capsule worldwide. We think this is a huge step in the right direction and hope to see other brands following in their footsteps in the near future.


How about you? Are you a fan of the Keurig Coffee Brewers or any other single-serve coffee products? The coffee industry is now addressing sustainability concerns, but how willing would you be to pay more to use the more sustainable products?

Let us know your take on this!