The antiquated machine sits alone on a sidewalk, wrapped in dents and faded graffiti, and you wouldn't be faulted for thinking it didn't actually work. But upon closer inspection, it's clear to see that the machine is plugged in, its yellowing backlights still flickering. What makes this machine so mysterious doesn't lie in its appearance, but in its stock.
For seventy-five cents, the machine randomly conjures up a rainbow of bizarre flavors, many of which don't even exist anymore, but even stranger than the mystery flavors is where they come from. In almost two decades, no one has ever seen someone stock the machine. In fact.. no one even knows who it belongs to, just that is never seems to run out.
VICE writer Hillary Pollack launched her own investigation into the mystery machine, starting at Broadway Locksmith, the closest building to the everlasting well of high fructose corn syrup.
"I've honestly never seen anyone open it," offers Mickey, the locksmith business's earnest-sounding general manager. "Do people get soda out of it frequently?" I ask him "Oh yeah, all the time. All day long," he said. " And yet in a decade-and-a-half, you've never seen anyone tampering with it or refilling it?" I asked. "Nope," he shrugged, "He must come in the middle of the night on a weekend or something."
Unconvinced that Mickey and his locksmith mignions had nothing to do with the machine, I pressed him for knowledge. "Are you sure that you're not the one who collects money out of it?" "No, ma'am," he insisted. "I think they run on the same power as our address, but that's it." Mickey also claims that people often gather around the machine to stare at it with frightened wonder, or put entire rolls of quarters into its bowels in hopes of decoding its mystery-button logic.
Much like Bigfoot, it appears that the secret of Seattle's "haunted vending machine" isn't going to be solved anytime soon, but for those of us with a few spare quarters and a thirst for mystery, that's not exactly a bad thing.
Want to do a bit of investigating of your own? Follow this handy map, but be sure to bring some change!