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The Most Popular Vending Machine Drinks And Snacks

This article lists the most popular vending machine drinks and snacks available, including why they're so widely celebrated and how they drive profits.


When starting a business, it is important to do market research to understand what customers want. Market research is especially valuable in the vending business where save for product selection and location, there is little room for differentiation. You want to stock your area's most popular vending machine drinks and snacks.

Vending machine customers respond well to drinks and snacks from national brands they already know and trust. Whether you own a combo vending machine, snack or beverage vending machine, you increase your chances of success by stocking your vending machines with products that already have a high demand. In this article, you will learn about the most popular vending machine beverage options and snacks.

The Most Popular Vending Machine Items

Snacks, candy, cold food, and cold bottled beverages are consistently the most popular vending machine items. The vending machine ideas are as vast as proucts they vend - from hygiene products to vending coffee and hot beverages - but snacks and drinks indeed are most sought out. Globally, snack vending machines are the most common vending machines according to recent statistics, accounting for more than half of all vending machines. The second most common vending machines are drink vending machines with a 30% market share. Combo vending machines come third with a 20% market share.

While snack vending machines are more common than drink vending machines, cold beverages outsell bagged snacks and cold food in most markets. In 2020, cold beverages alone accounted for 30% of all vending machine sales. Candy, snacks, and confections jointly make up about 40% of all sales.

Since most customers prefer vending machines with great product selections, it may be a good idea to buy a combo vending machine if you can’t decide between a snack and beverage vending machine. Another fail-safe way to go about buying is to purchase the best-buy vending machines or go for most popular vending machine brands in the US.

In most locations, you won’t go wrong with either a snack or beverage vending machin. The trick is to stock beverage, snack, or combo vending machines with the most in-demand branded products.

Top Vending Machine Snacks and Candy

Vending machine in the dark dispensing drinks and snacks

Every snack vending machine should have some essential brands that customers already know and love. Such snacks and cold food ensure repeat purchases and can also be an effective bait for impulse purchases. They may not be among the trendy healthy vending snack options, but buyers still love and want to buy them.

Customers in the United States have preferences as varied as the options in the market. The more popular snacks you have in your vending machine, the higher the likelihood that you have exactly what a customer is looking for.

Below are some of the top vending machine snacks in the United States. 

  1. Snickers Bars

Americans love a good chocolate bar. It so happens that Snickers is the most popular chocolate bar in the United States, with nearly 50 million Americans consuming the product every year. It is no wonder that Snickers is one of the most popular snacks in vending machines. Whenever possible, always have Snickers in your snacks or combo vending machines.

  1. M&Ms

M&Ms remains one of the most popular products in the vending machines in the United States. They come in several sizes and flavors to appeal to a wide range of consumers. You can never go wrong with M&Ms as one of the foundational products in your vending machine. You can experiment with different flavors to find out what your customers prefer the most. Nonetheless, the most widely-liked flavors are peanut butter, plain milk chocolate, white chocolate, almond, white chocolate, and English toffee.

  1. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

More than 40 million people eat Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups every year. When a customer comes to your vending machine looking for a satisfying crunch, you want them to find this iconic snack in stock. The snack comes in several filling, coating, and size variations.

  1. Clif Bars

If you want your vending machines to appeal to people who want organic products, Clif bars are an excellent choice. These products already have raving fans who want to always have them in their bags or cars. With Clif bars in your vending machine, you will attract a unique set of people who will visit your vending machine to specifically get Clif bars. You can then cross-sell them other products, such as soda, to increase your average order size.

  1. Doritos

It is hard to stop at just one Dorito. The snack is one of America’s most addictive cold food. It has a huge following and makes for a good vending machine snack as customers are likely to buy a drink to accompany the chips. If you are selling Doritos in a combo vending machine, make sure you have Coke or Pepsi soda as they are the most popular drinks bought together with Doritos.

  1. Pop-Tarts

Pop-Tarts are loved by every demographic, from the young to the old. What do you do when you are running late and don’t want to skip breakfast? You microwave some Pop-Tarts and breakfast is ready in seconds. Given the convenience they provide, Pop-Tarts are very popular in vending machines. The most popular flavors are frosted strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, and brown sugar cinnamon. You can experiment with other flavors as well to find out what’s popular in your area.

  1. Lay’s Classic Potato Chips

Vending machines without chips are leaving a lot of money on the table. Many people will stop at your snack vending machine looking for potato chips. Lay’s Classic Potato Chips remains one of the most popular brands across the nation. You can’t go wrong with the yellow bags of perfectly crispy chips. They will immediately catch the eye of any person passing by your snack vending machine.

  1. Sun Chips

Besides chips, consider stocking whole grain chips to give your customers more options. Sun Chips is one of the most popular whole grain chips in the market today. The Original Sun Chips flavor in the blue wrapper is quite popular. You can also experiment with Garden Salsa Sun Chips and Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips.

  1. Hershey’s Chocolate Bar

For your vending customers craving chocolate, Hershey’s flagship snack is the perfect treat. The chocolate bar has been around for a century and is well-known across the country. The original Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar was first introduced in 1900. Since then, Hershey’s has made several variants.

  1. Oreo Cookies

Oreo is probably the world’s best-known cookie brand. When your vending customers are shopping for a cookie, they will most likely be looking for an Oreo. If your vending equipment is at a location that teens frequent, you should consider stocking Oreo cookies. Teens love Oreos because they are affordable and come in flavors they like. Further, Oreo’s marketing strategy has made the product a part of pop culture. It is cool to eat Oreos.

  1. Cheetos

Cheetos has been ranked as the best-selling cheese puff in the United States. The product comes in several flavors including the original Crunchy variant. Some of the popular flavors you should consider carrying in your vending machine include the original Crunchy Cheetos, Flamin Hot Cheetos, XXTRA Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and Flamin Hot Puffs.

  1. KitKat

KitKat is one of America’s most recognizable brands. The candy bar makes for great bait for impulse purchases in your vending machines. With its popular tagline - Take a break, have a KitKat - it triggers consumers to take a break from their regular schedule and give themselves a candy treat.

  1. Granola Bars

When you want your customers to grab a guilt-free, healthy snack, granola bars will come to the rescue. This snack is healthier than the average treat in your vending machine. It is made of a wholesome collection of healthy ingredients, including rolled oats, honey, fruit chunks, and nuts. The most popular granola bar brands in the United States are Nature Valley, Quaker, and Sunbelt.

  1. Cheez-It Crackers

It is a good idea to stock a brand of crackers in your snack vending machines. Cheez-It is a well-known brand in this space. Their most popular flavor is the Cheez-It Original Snack Crackers. You can also experiment with other popular flavors such as Extra Toasty, Cheddar Jack, White Cheddar, and Extra Toasty Cheddar Jack.

  1. Honorable Mentions

The snack and candy market has several great products. Their popularity will vary by region. Other popular snacks and candies in the United States include:

  • Pretzels
  • Snickers
  • Twix
  • Skittles
  • Planters Peanuts
  • Fritos Corn Chips
  • Ritz Crackers
  • Gummi Bears
  • Milky Way
  • Pringles Chips

Most Popular Bottled Beverages for Vending Machines

three vending machines in the dark dispensing vending machine drinks

Giving your customers access to their favorite beverage options will significantly increase revenue your vending machines make. You should always have drinks available if your vending machines offer snacks. Either install an energy star drinks vending machine next to the snack vending machine or install a combo vending machine to sell both snacks and drinks.

Sweet carbonated drinks (soda pop) constitute a majority of the beverage options sold in vending machines in the United States.

Most Popular Sweet Carbonated Drinks in Vending Machines 

The following are the most popular soft drinks in drink vending machines or a combo vending machine:

  • Coca-Cola
  • Diet Coke
  • Pepsi
  • Diet Pepsi
  • Mountain Dew
  • Diet Mountain Dew
  • Dr. Pepper
  • Sprite
  • Fanta
  • 7-Up
  • Sierra Mist

At a minimum, you should always have Classic Coca-Cola and Pepsi plus their diet variants in a beverage vending machine.

Other Drinks to Stock in Your Vending Machine

Water: Popular bottled water brands, such as Dasani, Aquafina, and Evian, should be in your drink vending machines. 

Carbonated Water: Also known as Seltzer, carbonated water is one of the fastest-growing drink segments. The segment features several flavors of water from each of the popular brands. The popular brands in this category are La Croix, Shweppes, Perrier, and Polar.

Vitamin Water: Vitamin Water is available in thousands of Coca-Cola vending machines across the nation. Vending customers are already used to buying Vitamin Water from vending machines. They will buy it from you too even if it happens to be a combo vending machine.

Energy Drinks: Popular energy drinks in vending machines are Red Bull, Monster Energy, and Red Bull Sugarfree. They tend to do well in both beverage vending machine and a combo vending machine.

Gatorade: Gatorade is the most popular sports drink in the nation. It commands a 72% share of the sports drinks market. The popular flavors that are likely to sell in vending machines are Cool Blue, Lemon-Lime, Fruit Punch, Orange, and Glacier Freeze.

Cold Coffee: Most American adults drink at least one cup of coffee per day. When they can’t access a hot cup of coffee, they will likely grab a cold brew at the local store or vending machine. The best-selling cold coffee brands are Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew, Bizzy Organic Cold Brew Coffee, and High Brew Cold Brew Coffee.

Lemonade: Vending machine customers love lemonade. Stock brands they are familiar with in their classic sweetened flavors and diet options. Popular lemonade brands include Simply Lemonade, Minute Maid, Tropicana, and Newman’s Own. Maybe lemonade shouldn't take place of other drinks in combo vending machines right next to candy bars. Still it's likely they'll do magic when vending machines offer them next to other bottled beverages.

Most Profitable Vending Machine Items

an ipad showing profit projections in US dollars

Generally, carbonated soft drinks are the most profitable vending machine items. They sell fast, have few instances of spoilage, and can be marked up by as much as 200%.

As a vending machine business owner, though, you should be assessing the profitability of the entire vending operation and not the profitability of singular items. If you can sell a lot of one product, the cumulative profits from that one product will be more than the profits from a ‘more profitable’ product that sells only a few units.

The profitability of your vending machine business depends on:

  • Location
  • The Popularity of vending products
  • Mark up on vending products

To increase your chances of success, it is essential that you put your vending machine in an area with high foot traffic. When scouting for locations, you need to account for the following factors.

  • Foot traffic. The higher the foot traffic, the better. Locations such as storefronts on main streets, lobbies of service businesses, large apartment complexes, schools, break room, and large manufacturing complexes with lots of employees are ideal.
  • Demographics. You should target people who are most likely to buy your products. If you want to sell healthy snacks and bottled beverages, for instance, your vending machine will do well near gyms and health studios.
  • Competition. Vending is a productized business with very little room for differentiation. If you enter a vending location with lots of existing vending machines, you may struggle to turn a profit. 

Finding great locations is a skill you can develop over time. If you are just starting out, you can hire a professional vending locator to help you win great locations. Also, you can utilize a list-building service like ours to put together all the potential vending locations or to help and guide your through the LLC registration process.

Once you have a great location, you can guarantee success by having in-demand products. The drinks and and perfect machine snacks listed above can help you get started. If you need extra help selecting products, you can use the services of vending machine business brokers. 

Brokers source products in bulk from manufacturers and wholesalers and sell them in small quantities to small vendors. Such a broker will have accurate data on which products sell the most in your area.

Increase Profitability by Reducing Recurrent Costs

It is essential that you keep your recurrent costs manageable if you want to have a profitable vending business. Costs such as transportation or moving machines from one spot to another, energy bills, and the commission due to the location owner can affect your bottom line in a big way.

By negotiating a fair commission with the location owner, you will retain more of your profits for the lifetime of the deal. This is something you do once but will affect your vending business for as long as you are operating in the said location.

Final Thoughts

Running vending machines can be a profitable venture. The business requires minimal human labor. Therefore, you can easily scale the business by adding new vending machine locations.

Your vending machine profits will largely depend on the popularity of the vending machine items you have in stock and the foot traffic at the said vending location. Location is perhaps the most important factor under your control. Our service, Vending Locator, can help you find great vending locations in your area. Learn how it works here.

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