According to the social historian Kerry Segrave, the moment vending machines appeared on the shopping scenario

A day in the life of (almost) every vending 
machine in the world
What’s behind the indestructible appeal of the 
robotic snack?
By Tom Lamont

A minute before midnight on 21 July 2021, as passengers staggered sleepily through Manchester airport, I stood wringing my hands in the glow of a vending machine that was seven feet tall, conspicuously branded with the name of its owner – BRODERICK – and positioned like a clever trap between arrivals and the taxi rank. Standard agonies. Sweet or savoury? Liquid or something to munch? I opted for Doritos, keying in a three-digit code and touching my card to the reader so that the packet moved jerkily forwards, propelled by a churning plastic spiral and tipped into the well of the machine. My Doritos landed with a thwap, a sound that always brings relief to the vending enthusiast, because there hasn’t been a mechanical miscue. Judged by the clock, which now read 12am, it was the UK’s first vending-machine sale of the day.

Nine hours later, I was sitting in a spruce office in the Manchester suburb of Wythenshawe, drinking coffee with John “Johnny Brod” Broderick, the man who owned and operated that handsome airport machine. I’d had an idea to try to capture 24 hours in the life of vending machines. These weird, conspicuous objects! With their backs against the wall of everyday existence, they tempt out such a peculiar range of emotions, from relief to frustration, condescension to childish glee. For decades I’d been a steady and unquestioning patron. I figured that by spending some time in the closer company of the machines and their keepers, by immersing myself in their history, by looking to their future, I might get to the bottom of their enduring appeal. What made entrepreneurs from the Victorian age onwards want to hawk their goods in this way? What made generations of us buy? Johnny Brod seemed a good first person to ask.

Freckle-tanned, portly and quick to laugh, Broderick has a playful exterior that conceals the fiery heart of a vending fundamentalist. He is a man so invested in the roboticised transmission of snacks that, come Halloween, Johnny Brod has been known to park a machine full of sweets in his driveway, letting any costumed local kids issue their demand for treats via prodded forefinger. With his brother Peter and his father, John Sr, he runs the vending empire Broderick’s Ltd, its 2,800 machines occupying some of the most sought-after corridors and crannies of the UK. The Broderick family sugar and sustain office workers, factory workers, students, gym goers, shoppers and schoolchildren. They pep up breaktimes in a nuclear power station. If you’ve ever wolfed a postpartum Snickers in the maternity ward at Chesterfield or Leeds General, or turned thirsty while waiting to fly out of Stansted or Birmingham airports, then you’ve almost certainly shopped, at one mechanical remove, with Johnny Brod. He thanks you.


Every one of his machines, he countered, was fitted with a contactless card reader. […] Big change was sweeping through automated vending, and the first thing to go was small change. As cash sales tumbled in 2020 and 2021, and contactless sales climbed, the Brodericks had been the beneficiary of new and better information about their customers. […] Now the tycoons of vending understood us better. Johnny Brod had released a smartphone app that tempted people with discounts in return for permission to track their vending habits.


As the social historian Kerry Segrave notes in her 2002 book, Vending Machines, the moment these “silent salesmen” appeared on the streets, they were viewed as fair game to be swindled. Tricking vending machines was called “slugging”, because you fed in cheap brass slugs instead of money. Hundreds of worthless metal lozenges advertising boot polish were found inside a single machine in south-west London in 1914. More than a century later, Johnny Brod told me that sluggers were still at large, only these days they tended to use counterfeit currency. He once had a shoebox full of recovered dud coins in his Wythenshawe office, but it was stolen during a break-in.

Back in 1926, the battle against the cheats brought the Fry family into vending. And the Fry family changed the whole game. B. E. Fry was an inventor in St Louis, Missouri, who noted that the machines in his city were gullible enough to be fooled by cardboard circles. He came up with an improved coin-swallowing mechanism that would answer to nickels and dimes or nothing, he swore. By the 1940s, Fry’s family business, renamed National Vendors, was booming. National Vendors established many of the industry customs that hold sway today. Roving technicians on the roads. A sales team on the phones back at HQ, fighting off turf incursions from rivals, signing new sites to new contracts.

Every vending machine is a battleground. Profits are ruthlessly haggled over. Competition for spots is intense. Broadly speaking, the vending game is built on deals between operators (who own machines and have the skills to install them, fix them, constantly fill them with fats and sugars) and site owners (who have the rights to advantageous pieces of land). Either a machine is placed on private property – say, a factory, where the site owner surrenders profits to the operator in return for keeping a workforce fed and present – or, a machine is placed somewhere public, inside a teeming airport, for instance. Here the site owner will expect a cut of each item sold, anywhere from 10% to 30%.

Those midnight Doritos at Manchester airport cost me £1.10. Though Johnny Brod, the operator, would not say how much of a cut went to the site owner, Manchester Airports Group, he did acknowledge that he made 22p in profit per Doritos packet. (And that Manchester Airport Group made more.) We were discussing this in headquarters when his father, John Sr, wandered through the office, ready to reminisce about the old days. John Sr explained how he founded the business in the 1960s with a single National Vendors machine, imported from the US. He struck a deal to put it in the foyer of Macclesfield baths. Everything escalated from there. […]
(Source: <
Access: 04/14/2022).

UESB 2022 - QUESTÃO 22
According to the social historian Kerry Segrave, the moment vending machines appeared on the shopping scenario they had to face a problem. Mark the option that best describes what such problem was.

(A) Some people saw the opportunity of tricking the machines with fake coins or fake bills.

(B) The machines were easily stolen from the streets where they were placed. 

(C) The coin-swallowing mechanism of the machines answered to nickels and dimes only. 

(D) The food inside the machine got frequently stuck making customers mad.

(E) People didn’t want to buy food from a machine.


(A) Some people saw the opportunity of tricking the machines with fake coins or fake bills.

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Questões com Gabarito: According to the social historian Kerry Segrave, the moment vending machines appeared on the shopping scenario
According to the social historian Kerry Segrave, the moment vending machines appeared on the shopping scenario
Questões com Gabarito
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