U.S. Consumer Drink Trends

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U.S. consumers have been drinking fewer purchase beverages for the past ten years, but when they do, they tend to drink coffee, soft drinks, milk, iced tea, or bottled water. According to the NPD Group, there are 72 fewer occasions per person each year when the average consumer purchased beverages compared to a decade ago. Even with a decline in beverage purchases, the beverage industry is becoming increasingly diverse!

Brewed coffee and specialty coffee are the top consumed beverage at home in the U.S. followed by regular and diet soft drinks. Milk and iced tea rank as the third top beverage consumed in and out of homes. Although the consumption of regular and soft drinks have been on declined, carbonated beverages are still one of the highest sold beverages in the U.S. and this category is predicted to grow by 6% in the next few years. Carbonated beverages are the second most consumed beverages in the U.S. at home which can be seen in the fact that they represent such a large portion of shelf space at grocery stores.

Bottled water is a top growing beverage category in and away from home. This is the only category that has seen a large increase in consumption at home in the past decade. Companies continue to introduce new varieties of water to attract consumers looking for a low calorie and sugar drink. According to a report from Beverage Marketing, bottled water consumption grew 120% between 2000 and 2015. During this time, carbonated beverages have decreased by 16% due to health concerns. Bottled water has become an alternative for juice, tap water, soda, and alcoholic drinks.

Major beverage companies such a Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have been expanding their profiles to include a wider variety of beverages including various bottled waters. Although consumers are purchasing fewer beverages than in the past, beverages are still a very important part of the American diet!

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Fun Facts for National Popcorn Day

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January 19 is National Popcorn Day! Celebrate the day with your favorite type of popcorn whether that’s prepared in the microwave, the stovetop, a popcorn popping machine, over the fire, or a ready to eat bag from the store! Popcorn can be a super fun and healthy snack! Here are some fun popcorn facts:

  1. Americans eat around 17 billion quarts of popcorn every year. This amount would fill the Empire State Building 18 times!
  2. By volume, popcorn is America’s favorite snack!
  3. The oldest ears of popcorn ever came from Mexico and over more that 4,000 years old.
  4. Popcorn is the official snack of Illinois and they have celebrated “Popcorn Day” ever since 1958.
  5. Sugar was rationed during WWII so Americans ate three times as much popcorn during this time.
  6. Popcorn had been sold in theaters since 1912. In theaters, for ever dollar spent on popcorn, approximately 90 cents is profit.
  7. Popcorn sales had decreased when TVs started entering American homes because this lead to lower movie ticket sales and popcorn sales at movies.
  8. A single popcorn kernel pops with so much force that it can be propelled up to three feet in the air.
  9. Popcorn can be a very healthy snack:
    1. Popcorn is a whole grain that provides 31 calories per cup. 3 cups of popcorn = 1 full serving of whole grains
    2. High in fiber, low in fat, and contains no salt or sugar
    3. Popcorn contains more antioxidants than fruits and vegetables
  10. Thanks to the invention of microwave popcorn, 70% of popcorn is consumed in homes!

Let us know what type of popcorn you’ll eat to celebrate National Popcorn Day!

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Top 10 New Years Traditions

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Ring in the New Year with the most exciting traditions yet! Here are a few exciting New Year’s traditions you might want to try:

  • Visit Time’s Square – Each year one million people gather to watch the famous New Year’s Eve ball descends atop One Times Square. This is a must see to add to your bucket list to visit New Year’s Eve some year! This event is a farwell of the past year and a welcome of the new year.
  • Eat 12 grapes – In Spain, it’s a tradition eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight to celebrate the upcoming twelve months of the new year. You can make a wish for each grape you each for each month of the next year.
  • Burn the bad – Have a bonfire to burn all of the negativity from the past year. Make a list of any bad memories, habits, or anything you would like to forget. Then throw the list in the fire and get ready for a positive upcoming year!
  • Go to a casino – Aside from slot machines and cards, casinos often offer fun New Year’s Eve celebrations such as dinners, concerts, or comedians.
  • Find a local party – Many bars or clubs have special New Year’s parties. Find one close by and ring in the New Year in celebration!
  • Visit Las Vegas – Ring in the New Year in one of the most exciting cities in the nation! Whether you’re walking along the strip, in a casino or hotel, or ziplining across Freemont street, it’s guaranteed to be an adventure!
  • Mistletoe under the pillow – In Ireland, an old custom is for unmarried women to put mistletoe leaves under their pillow to hope for new love in this upcoming year.
  • Make a time capsule – Make a time capsule of the past year including event stubs, pictures, newspaper clippings, and anything exciting from the past year. Decide when you can open the time capsule again – whether that a year from now, five years, or even ten years! It’s fun to have the anticipation of looking back in the past!
  • Create yearly videos – Get out the camera and interview family members. By doing this each year, it’s a fun way to look back on the past year. These videos are especially fun with children in the household because you can see how they are truly growing up each year.
  • New Year’s Predictions – New Year’s Resolutions don’t usually last so instead make New Year’s Predictions! Predict what your family members, friends, and you accomplish in the next year. Take a look at your predictions next New Year’s Eve and see how many you got right!

Happy New Year’s Eve and have the best upcoming year yet! We’d love to hear about some of your favorite New Year’s traditions!

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Accessible Vending Machines

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It is so easy to take things for granted, but for those with a disability, simple daily activities can be a challenge. University of Waikato law student, Jane Sankey-O’Dwyer, decided to create vending machines that were easy for people with disabilities to use. As a blind student, Jane struggled to get a drink out of a vending machine by herself.

She wanted to make sure that no one else had to struggle with simple activities such as getting a drink or snack from the vending machine just because they may have a disability. Jane received a $5,000 scholarship for the university’s Summer10 week Start-Up Program. Jane went blind at age 25 and realized how difficult daily activities become so she wanted to make a difference for others.

She is looking into software similar to Siri on the iphone since voice-activated vending machines would give blind people more access to vending machine.We love that Jane’s working toward making sure vending machines are accessible for more people!

 

Short Stories and Insta-Art Vending Machines

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We have seen many stories of vending machines offering unique products around the world, but two interesting offerings we’ve seen lately are: short stories and insta-art!

A city in France got the world’s first short story vending machine. The machine has three numbered buttons: 1, 3, and 5 that refer to how many minutes the story will take to read. After choosing the length of the story, the machine will print a long ticket (the short story). Back in January, there were eight short story distributors in Grenoble in the French Alps. People can rent the short story vending machine for 500 euro. The short story machines offered 600 original stories and in the first moth, about 10,000 stories were printed. In the age of technology, the short stories provide a break from reading from screens. Many popular short stories are likely to be sold in vending machines. Hospitals, train stations, airports, amusement parks, museums, and cinemas have said they would be interested in having short story vending machines.

An Art-O-Mat, a retired and re-styled cigarette vending machine, is dispensing small pieces of art including jewelry, sculptures, paintings, and collages from over 400 artists from around the world. This machine is in the Downriver Council for the Arts (DCA) which is an old Masonic Temple in Wyandotte. There are similar vending machines in Las Vegas, Santa Fe, and Australia that allow artists to share their work with a wider audience!

How cool is it that you can get short stories and original art from vending machines? Do you think these types of vending machines will become more popular?

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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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