If You Give a Mouse a Cookie….Trip through a Vending Machine

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It’s National Cookie Day and that means it’s the perfect excuse to visit Laura Numeroff’s classic, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Take a trip through the vending machine to see all the other things a mouse will need after his cookie!

As you know, if you give a mouse a cookie, he’ll ask you for some milk and then a straw. While in this case, the mouse will ask you to go to the Keurig coffee vending machine to grab a hot chocolate k-cup to wash down the cookie crumbs then he’ll need a napkin to wipe away all the crumbs. Then he’ll need to get some gum from the vending machine. After chewing the gum for a bit, he’ll realize that he’s hungry and he’ll need a snack. He’ll ask for some potato chips but after he opens the bag, he’ll ask you for some chocolate since he loves the sweet and salty combination. After the snack, he’ll get very full so he’ll probably ask for a blanket to rest, but before he can go to sleep, he’ll need a cold bottle of water.

When the mouse wakes up, he’ll realize that he’s full from all the food so he’ll probably ask you to take him on a walk. After the walk, he will be all sweaty, so he will ask you for a bath, but he’ll need some soap. He’ll ask for extra bubbles but make a mess so he’ll ask for a towel to clean it up. He will stand back and realize that the floor needs to be sweeped so he’ll as for a broom. Then he’ll clean the whole house, but when he gets to the kitchen he bumps into the jar of cookies. The cookies come crashing down. He’ll have to eat the cookies quick so they don’t go to waster. And chances are if you give him another cookie, he’ll ask to go back to the vending machine for another hot chocolate and another cookie to go with it!

Enjoy National Cookie Day for yourself and see where your adventure takes you! What type of cookie will you have to celebrate National Cookie Day?

Increasing Workplace Productivity through Coffee

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After water, coffee is the most consumed drink in the world and workplaces are continuing to realize the importance of this drink. Many workplaces around the nation are spending more money to provide better, great tasting coffee for their employees as the workplace view of coffee continues to evolve! Coffee has become a crucial part of the workplace culture and has been proven to increase creativity and productivity in the workplace!

Surveys have revealed that small perks such as good, free coffee can greatly increase employee morale. Gourmet coffee has a high perceived value to employees. According to a Keurig national survey, 37% of employees would prefer free, gourmet coffee over a holiday party. This displays the important role that coffee plays within companies. Many companies have Keurig machines to offer a wide variety of gourmet beverages to their employees.

According to The Wall Street Journal, coffee consumption in the U.S. is poised to grow at 2% until 2020. The U.S.accounted for 16% of coffee consumption in the past year. Many workplaces will keep up with this increased coffee consumption in order to increase employee satisfaction. Coffee breaks offer a moment of downtime to bring colleagues together and increases creativity. Coffee breaks create a positive social group climate in the workplace which improves company productivity in numerous ways!

Let us know what type of coffee you like to drink at work and how many cups of coffee you drink each day!

8 Unique Vending Items around the World

People often think of vending machines to grab a quick snack or drink, but there are vending machines around the world that offer very unique items:

  • Live crabs – If you’re in China, you can grab a live crab from a vending machine. How crazy is in to get a live creature from a vending machine?
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  • Cooked pizza – Pizza machines in Europe and America are becoming more popular! In just 3 minutes, you can get a 9 inch fresh pizza from a pizza vending machine! How cool is that? A full meal on the go!
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  • Cupcakes – You can enjoy a sweet treat from a vending machine in New York, LA, Chicago, Dallas, or Atlanta. Sprinkles Cupcakes started this trend and it’s likely to lead to more baked goods in vending machines!
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  • French Fries – The Netherlands has a vending machine that dispenses fresh, hot french fries. Hotels offer fries to guests so they can grab a snack anytime of the day or night

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  • Shoes – You never know when you might need a new pair of shoes! The Onitsuka Tiger machine in Carnaby Street, London is offering shoes so you no longer have to worry if you break a sole!
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  • Legos – Germany train stations are offering Legos in a vending machines. This is a fun way to get toys on the go!
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  • Flowers – An automated kiosk in Raleigh, NC offers fresh-cut arrangements. This is the perfect way to grab some last minute flowers for a loved one. The flowers even come with a vase and card!
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  • Prescription Medications – MedBox has figured out how to dispense medication from a vending machine using security measures such as fingerprint samples. These machines are primarily used by pharmacies, assisted living facilities, doctors, and clinics to help manage sensitive drugs.

These are just a few of the many unique items offered in vending machines around the world. In the future, more items including alcohol are likely to be sold in vending machines. What’s the most unique item you’ve seen in a vending machine and what items would you want to purchase from a vending machine in the future?

Spooky Halloween Drinks

Halloween is always a fun time for children – dressing up, going trick or treating, and eating way too much candy, but who says Halloween is just for kids? With Halloween coming up, it’s a perfect time to make some fun holiday drinks because adults often have just as much fun celebrating Halloween. Whether it’s a Halloween party, going through a haunted house, or spending the evening with your family, the Halloween season can be a blast for the adults too! Halloween is the perfect time to concoct some spooktacular drinks for your guests!

  • Candy Corn Jell-O Shots – Add a Halloween twist to your typical Jell-O shots! The first step will be to make the first and last layer of the candy corn shot. Pour 1 cup of water into a small saucepan and pour two packets of unflavored gelatin into the water. Heat the water and gelatin over low heat and stir occasionally until the gelatin has dissolved. Remove from the heat and add ½ can of condensed milk to the mixture and stir then add ⅔ cups vanilla vodka. Cover and set aside half of mixture. Distribute the first half of the mixture into 20 shots, filling each no more than ⅓ full. Then put these in the refrigerator for half an hour or until firm.
  • After the first layer is firm, pour another 1 cup of water into your saucepan and add 1 packet of gelatin to the middle layer. Heat the water until gelatin dissolves and remove from heat then stir in the box of orange Jell-O until it is dissolved. Then you can add ⅓ cup of vanilla vodka and evenly distribute the orange layer on top of the white layer and refrigerate until chilled. After this layer is firm, grab the second half of the milk mixture and add a few drops of yellow food coloring. Distribute your yellow layer on top of the orange and put it back into the fridge until set. After all the layers are firm, you can serve these fun shots to your guests!
Ingredients
1 small box orange-flavored Jell-O (3oz)
3 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
7oz. sweetened condensed milk (1/2 of a 14 oz. can)
2 cups water
1 cup vanilla or cake vodka (add more if you like strong shots)
Yellow food coloring
20 shot glasses/cups
  • Caramel Apple Sangria – This fruity drink tastes so much like a caramel apple, but with a fun twist! Mix caramel vodka, sweet apple cider, and crisp pinot grigio. Serve it chilled over ice then add chopped apple to each individual glass.
Ingredients
1 750 ml bottle of pinot grigio (or your favorite mild white wine)
1 cup caramel flavored vodka
6 cups apple cider
2 medium apples, cored and chopped
  • Rumchata Pumpkin Pie Pudding Shots – Whisk together the milk, Rumchata, and instant pudding mix in a bowl until combined. Then add in cool whip slowly with a whisk. Scoop the pudding mixture into shot glasses or cups with lids. Freeze for two hours then they’re ready to enjoy!
Ingredients
1 small Pkg. pumpkin spice instant pudding
3/4 Cup Milk
3/4 Cup Rumchata
8oz tub Cool Whip
  • Frog in the blender – Add a twist to your typical vodka cranberry by adding a lime and giving it a whirl in the blender!
Ingredients
I cup of ice
2 oz. vodka
4 oz. cranberry juice
2 lime wheels
  • Black Devil Martini – Stir and strain the dark rum and dry vermouth into chilled martini glass rimmed with orange sugar, then garnish with black olives.
Ingredients
2 oz. dark rum
1/2 oz. dry vermouth
black olive
orange sugar

These are just a few of the fun Halloween alcoholic drinks. What’s your favorite spooky drink to serve during the Halloween season?

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Popping Tabs for the Ronald McDonald House!

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Pop your tabs for the Ronald McDonald House Charities! The Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) help keep families with sick children close to their kids and provide the care and resources they need. Having a child fighting an illness can be tough on the family both financially and emotionally, but RMHC works to provide housing, finances for moving to a new city, and helps with medical and dental care in vulnerable communities. RMHC has chapters in more than 63 countries and regions. There are 359 Ronald McDonald Houses around the world!

A continuous fundraising program that the Ronald McDonald House Charities participates in is the pop tab collection program. The organization works with local recycling centers to receive money for collecting tabs from aluminum cans. You can donate the pop tabs to any McDonalds restaurant or a local Ronald McDonald House Charity.

Do you know why they collect pop tabs versus the whole cans? The pop tab is actually made entirely of aluminum whereas the can is a combination of metals, so you get more money from the pop tab than the can itself! The donated pop tabs are weighed to determine their value and then the recycling center sends the RMHC the value of the pop tabs. RMHC receives this money to help fund their programs. Yearly, RMHC serves more than 7 million children and families so by popping your pop tabs, you have the ability to help families across the world stay with their loved ones and give hope to a brighter future!

Do you want to get involved in helping the Ronald McDonald House? You can help out with the pop tab collection program by getting your family, friends, and coworkers involved in popping their tabs for the Ronald McDonald House!

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An October Adventure to the Pumpkin Patch

As the leaves begin to change color along with the crisp autumn weather, many people love to go find the perfect pumpkin! A day full of wagon rides, corn mazes, and choosing the perfect pumpkin is a fun way to spend a fall October day!

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Check out a few exciting pumpkin patches around the world:

  • Roloff Farms (Hillsboro, OR) – This farm has been featured on TLC’s reality show, “Little People, Big World.” The farm is home to several unique structures that have become popular tour destinations during the fall. With pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, you’ll be sure to find the perfect one even giants, blue/pink pumpkins, and “Ghost” pumpkins! Don’t miss the food corner and be sure to grab some fresh kettle corn! There are also wagon tours, pony rides, face painting, and an adventure area for the kids.
  • Cool Patch Pumpkins (Dixon, CA) – Are you ready to visit the home of the World Record Corn Maze? Go explore the Cool Patch Pumpkins where you will find a pumpkin patch featuring edible and non-edible pumpkins, gourds, squash, and more. The Fun Zone is a fun time for all ages whether its the mini maze, corn bath, trikes, hay castle, hay ride, or pumpkin cannon!
  • Peanuts Pumpkin Patch Express (Bryson City, NC) – The Peanuts characters have returned to the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Pumpkin Patch! Don’t forget your costumes for this Halloween themed adventure! There will be a narration of Schulz’s “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” as the train travels to the pumpkin patch. Passengers will have a photo opportunity with Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Snoopy! During the layover, some fun activities include: roasting marshmallows, coloring, getting temporary tattoos, trick or treating, jumping in the bouncy house, and going for hayrides! Each child will get to choose their own pumpkin from the Great Pumpkin Patch to take home. This is the perfect pumpkin patch trip for the young ones!

What’s your favorite fall tradition? Pumpkin patches and apple orchards are definitely top choices around the nation!

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Top High Energy Foods to Beat the Midday Snooze

All foods give you energy, but not all foods give you the same energy to keep you going throughout the day. Many people turn to coffee or sugary treats when their energy, but these effects are often short term and lead to a crash later. Snacks that provide the most energy are rich in protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates.

Here are some healthy foods that keep you energized much longer:

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  • Nuts – Almonds, walnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, and pistachios are just a few of the protein-filled nuts that give you an energy boost. Nuts are a great source of magnesium to convert sugar into energy fuel. Pistachios provide protein, fiber, and heart healthy monounsaturated fats to give you energy all day long. Since you have to remove the shell of pistachios, it is less likely that you will overeat.
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  • Peanut Butter – Peanut butter contains healthy fats, protein, and fiber to keep hunger away. Just be sure to avoid peanut butters with added sugar or hydrogenated oils!

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  • Leafy greens – Leafy greens such as spinach, romaine lettuce, and arugula are high in folate, which is a mood-enhancing nutrient. These vegetables all contain vitamin C to help you stay strong and healthy. You can add leafy greens into pastas, salads, soups, and sandwiches to boost your energy through the day.
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  • Fruit – Fruit contains vitamin C, fiber, and natural sugar to boost your energy level. Frozen fruit or fresh fruit smoothies can be an easy way to add more fruit into your day. Bananas decelerate digestion and they are full of fiber, vitamin B, and potassium, so this fruit is a great snack to keep you going.
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  • Dark Chocolate – Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, natural sugars, and natural fats from the cacao bean.

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  • Whole grains – Complex carbohydrates such as the whole grains in oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Your body primarily uses carbohydrates to fuel itself, so whole grains area critical aspect of creating natural energy throughout the day. Whole grains help you feel satisfied so you are less likely to turn toward sweets and empty carbohydrates.

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  • Hummus – This fiber and protein filled snack is a perfect snack with veggies or pita chips to stabilize blood sugar, reduce hunger, and increase energy.
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  • Greek yogurt – Greek yogurt has almost twice the amount of protein as regular yogurt. If you add nuts and fruit, it’s a prefect mix to give you more energy.

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  • Water – Water may not be a food, but it’s important to drink enough water in order to stay energized. When you are dehydrated, you often feel tired and sluggish. Water regulates digestive and bodily functions, so it’s crucial to stay hydrated!

These are just a few of the many foods that you can eat to get more energy. It’s important to find snacks that have protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates in order to stay energized throughout the day!

Let us know your favorite high-energy snack in the comments!

Exciting and Healthy School Snacks

Now that school is back in full swing, it’s important that kids have the right snacks to fuel their bodies! It can be tricky to find healthy snacks that your children actually like, but with a little preparation, you can win them over with healthy snacks.

  • Ants on a log – This is a fun snack that kids can make that only involves three ingredients – celery, peanut butter, and raisins. It’s the prefect mix of veggies (celery), fruit (raisins), and protein (peanut butter)!

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  • Smoothies – Smoothies can be a healthy and quick snack for children on the go. Whether it’s a strawberry, blueberry, or mango smoothie, you are sure to find one that your children love. This can be a simple way to get your child to eat more protein, fruit, and potentially veggies!

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  • Pickles in a blanket – Spread cream cheese on a piece of turkey or ham then place a pickle in the middle and roll it up to make a simple snack!

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  • Apple moons or banana boats – Take sliced bananas or apples and put peanut butter and granola on the sides to create an apple moon or banana boat.

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It’s important for snacks to include protein to helpkids feel fuller longer and have enough energy for all of their activities. Protein is vital for growing bodies and it helps build and repair lean muscles. Protein works with other nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D to build strong bones. A simple way to add some protein into your children’s snacls is with a glass of milk which is full of essential amino acids!

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You can’t forget about the fruits and veggies! Fruits and veggies are low in fat, calories, sodium and cholesterol, and have a wide variety of health benefits. Although it can be tricky to get little ones to eat veggies, there are a few tricks to add more veggies into your children’s diet. You can hide the veggies in your cooking such as mixing cooked veggies into eggs, pasta, quesadillas, or smoothies. Let your kids help you with the shopping and try to see how many different color fruits and veggies you can incoroporate into a meal or snack. You can also introduce new veggies with a dip or hummus. Find a way to make fruits and veggies more exciting and you might be surprised if your kid finds a new favorite food!

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What is your favorite snack for your children?

Looking Back on State Fair Food

As many state fairs have recently come to a close, it’s fun to look back at some of the unique fair foods across the nation. State fairs are known for their unique food offerings especially deep fried food and food on a stick.

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Here are a few unique items at state fairs around the nation:

  • Spam sushi (Minnesota) – Grilled Spam, sushi rice, fried egg and wasabi are rolled in dried seaweed to create grilled Spam. The Spam Museum is in Austin, Minnesota, so this fair food ties well into the state’s Spam pride.
  • Spam curds (Minnesota) – The Minnesota State Fair has another unique Spam treat with Spam curds which are cubes of cheese-flavored Spam battered, deep-fried, and smothered in ranch dressing.
  • Fried Jelly beans (Massachusetts) – Jelly Belly beans are rolled in funnel cake batter and fried to create a unique sweet treat.
  • Alligator on a stick (Illinois) – This is a popular choice at the Illinois state fair. Alligator on a stick tastes like pork and has a similar texture to veal.
  • Deep Fried Scorpion (Arizona) – Scorpions are battered, fried, and served plain or dipped in chocolate.
  • Sautéed mealworms (Arizona) – Mealworms are cooked in olive oil, sautéed in garlic, and smothered in enough barbecue sauce to give a similar consistency to fried onions.
  • Fried Moon Pie (Texas) – This sugary treat includes a marshmallow and graham-cracker sandwich confection that’s deep-fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
  • Krispy Kreme Burgers (North Carolina) – A beef patty is sandwiched between two Krispy Kreme donuts with optional bacon and cheese to create a sweet and salty meal.
  • Hot Beef Sundae (Indiana) – A new type of sundae includes layered mashed potatoes, marinated beef, gravy, cheese, corn “sprinkles” and a cherry (tomato).
  • Deep fried butter (Texas) – You can even get some deep fried butter at the Texas state fair. Butter is battered and flash friend to create a warm biscuit with a buttery center.

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These are just a few of the unique food offerings at fairs around the nation this year. You can always find cheese curds, mini donuts, corn dogs, and the typical fair food, but it’s always fun to try something new.

Which fair food is your favorite and which unique fair food did you try this year?

The Future of Payment Methods at the Vending Machine

How do you think people pay for items at the vending machine in the future? The vending industry has continuously changed over the years including the ways you can pay for items at the vending machines. While cash has been the most common payment method at a machine over history, there are a variety of other payment methods at vending machines:

  • Google Wallet – This payment method allows you to send and receive money instantly to anyone in the U.S. using an email address or phone number. It’s free and easy to use because all you need is the Google Wallet app and you can send money from your debit card, bank account, or Wallet Balance. With Google Wallet, you can “Tap and Pay” at some vending machines and the machine with charge the amount to your Google Wallet account.
  • Apple Pay – Apple Pay is a simple and safe way to pay using your mobile device Through Apple Pay, you can use your cards with just a touch to purchase an item from the vending machine.
  • Credit card readers – Many vending machines allow you to pay with your credit card and debit card. This is handy for those days when you realize you don’t have any cash on you.
  • Pay Range – This simple mobile payment system allows you to “swipe” on your mobile device for an item when you are within arm’s length from the machine. The Pay Range App does not send any of your personal information to the vending machine so it is considered a very secure payment option.
  • Yoke – Yoke is a payment system that takes the mobile wallet one step further by offering complete control with real time inventory tracking, data collection, and mobile self-checkout.

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These are just a few of the many current payment options at vending machines, but there are many others. As we go into the near future, mobile payments will continue to become more popular. The world is continually becoming more digital and vending machines will stay up to date with this trend.

Let us know how you think you’ll be purchasing items at the vending machine in the future!