Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The Great Fall of Vending Machines

At some point in 2014, if you are a vending machine company with more than twenty machines.....you will have to comply with a new rule connected to the Affordable Healthcare Act.  The rule says.....for you to list out the calorie count for each product in your vending machine.  This is supposed to help persuade folks....to avoid buying products in the machine....or at least the political dimwits in DC believe this.

The news media folks claim there are roughly five million vending machines in America.  I've read this and have my doubts.  Just walking around any Air Force installation....I'd take a guess that at least four hundred machines reside on most bases.  The court house back in my home town of Bama....has four vending machines (two soda machines and two snack machines).  So I have my doubts about this five million number.

Does a guy really think when he's in front of a vending machine?  No.  That's the sad truth.  You go to a vending machine with purpose.  You've reached some state where you need a Mountain Dew and a Snickers bar, or perhaps a bottle of Diet Coke and a bag of diet chips.  You know already before you arrive at the machine....generally....what you want.  Course, in fifty percent of the cases....that vending option is out, and you have to stand there and think of plan "B" for this snack requirement.

You can imagine the side of every machine now.....listing out forty options, and the calorie count of each.  It'll be in eight-pitch font, and you'd need to squint to look at the item name and the calorie count.

Debates will start to occur.  Three guys at the vending machine....discussing the 320-calorie candy bar versus the bag of muffins which are 390-calories.  Someone will remark about some extra bad stuff in the candy bar, while another guy comments on the food enhancer added to the muffins.  Then one guy will suggest the pop-tart option, while another reacts quickly and says that's heavy in sugar.

Sadly, we used to have office debates on the best way to change brake-pads, the choice of varnish for oak, and discuss vacations in the Smokies versus the Rockies.  We used to talk NCAA football, the sad state of the Yankees, and pose the scenario of Hulk Hogan versus Mister Wrestling Number Two. We had great debates over rib recipes, the better method of septic tank replacement, and honky-tonk women that we encountered in our lives.  Now?  A brief talk between Snickers and Baby Ruth?

There's something wrong here, but it's obvious that we've walked into a pretty deep mess.  Maybe, if we are lucky.....someone will start up an old fashioned canteen operation, and just sell us forty types of drinks and snacks from a closet-like room, and because of no insight via the political process.....there's no rule to force canteen guys to display calorie counts.  I hate to say we need to revert back to the 1950's mentality, but in this case....it may be the only alternate way to survive as an American.

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