This University Has A Bacon Vending Machine

Let's face it, we love the convenience of vending machines. Pop in some bills or a credit card; get a snack and a drink. The contents of a vending machine aren't limited to just Cheetos and Coke, either. Humankind has used its ingenuity to create vending machines that dispense crabs in China, gold in Dubai, raw milk in Europe, champagne in London, marijuana in Seattle, and live bait — including minnows — in Montana, according to HealthyYOU Vending.

While it probably depends on your personal taste, this next vending machine sounds way more appetizing than any of those. What does it sell? Meat candy, AKA bacon. That's right, back in 2018, a bacon vending machine appeared at Ohio State University just in time for finals week, according to the school's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. During the eight days the machine was on campus, it sold around 275 pounds of bacon.

Within hours of the announcement, the news had gone viral. "Bringing home the bacon just got easier," a headline from Local 12 declared. According to OSU, the vending machine was eventually the focus of more than 1,100 media reports. (You can add this one to the list.) 

The machine, aptly placed in the Animal Science Building, sold students pre-cooked bacon bits and strips donated by Hormel, Sugardale, and Smithfield for $1, with the proceeds going toward the meat science program, according to an Ohio Pork Council press release about the launch.

How did such a machine come to be?

The pork purveyor, according to the college, was the brainchild of Meghann Winters, who at the time was a 21-year-old senior agricultural communication major that was working part time with the Ohio Pork Council, an industry group dedicated to promoting meat from the state's pig farmers.

She borrowed some tools from her dad, found an old vending machine on Facebook, and proceeded to "baconify" it through trial and error so that the pork packages didn't get caught in the coils. It's one thing to have a Twinkie get stuck but a whole other level of disappointment to not get your bacon. Winters' plan worked, and high demand kept the Meat Science Club busy stocking the machine four to five times a day before they ran out and had to get more.

The improvised vending machine's popularity during finals week wasn't the end of the story. The year after, Ohio Pork Council launched a new-and-improved version at Ohio Stadium for football season. The custom-made machine even features "a touch screen interface with educational videos and facts about Ohio's pig farming community."

And on October 9, the council took to Twitter to urge people going to Buckeyes home games "to visit our Bacon Vending Machine on the south side of the stadium on the B-Deck!" Ah, nothing like eating pig while watching the ol' pigskin get thrown around.