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The healthy vending machine challenge. Try for a happy medium.

This morning I read a WSJ article about getting healthy snacks from a vending machine.  The article was interesting and offered solutions for getting fruits and veggies into the hands of hungry workers, but I was frustrated.

After highlighting the technology that can make offering healthy fare via a vending machine a reality, the article continues to point out:

  • that 100 calorie snack packs, pretzels and wheat thins "went over like a turd in a punch bowl" according to an HR manager a Vending Services company. 
  • that at one machine the employees who stopped to make a purchase opted for doughnuts and candy over pineapple chunks and grapes, or celery, broccoli and carrot sticks that are priced at $2.50

Well BIG SURPRISE THERE!  Who in their right mind is going to fork over $2.50 for that "healthy" snack.  And pretzels and many of the foods sold in 100 calorie snack packs are not satisfying.  They are often fakes of the originals.

Solution:  Offer healthier fare that tastes good.  Sure, keep the fruit and veggies and impostor options, but then go for something real:

  • Soy crisps.  Glenny's sells them in individual packages. We've extolled the virtues of the soy crisp time and time again. Click here for a past post on soy crisps.
  • Natural food.  For the refrigerated machines, Greek Yogurt with honey.  It's rich, sweet and satisfying.  Oikos offers single serve packages and the honey flavor is a little high in sugar but also delivers 13 grams protein, calcium, Vitamin B12, riboflavin and gut loving probiotics!  Oikos Greek Yogurt
  • Energy bars -- ones that are 200 calories or less. There are plenty of them out there that taste great and contain at least 5 grams of protein and 2-3 grams of fiber.
  • Granola -- again under 200 calories for the serving and not more than 12 grams of sugar.

The point is that there are salty, creamy and sweet snacks out there that are not "fakes" of the real thing, tasty and still sensible.  Schools, restaurants, vending machines, snack bars, and coffee shops need to start thinking more about offering real, good food versus some outdated concept of healthy food. 

I love broccoli, but the thought of getting it from a vending machine with some sort of ranch type dipping sauce is not maybe with a gourmet, sweet & spicy mustard...

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If someone is actually going

If someone is actually going to buy broccoli or another vegetable from a vending machine, they hardly need help being healthy. Only already healthy people would choose broccoli!!

And seriously, most people looking to a vending machine for food are either desperate (meaning they were forced to skip lunch or had to work late etc. -- something unplanned) or looking for a treat.

So I agree with above. Companies need to offer appealing snacks that are not just empty calories.

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