Hit or Miss: Vending Machine Snacks

Written By Jordyn Hronec

Across this university’s campus, there are copious amounts of vending machines. There’s pretty much a machine or two or three in every building. However, the offerings within these machines are not so widely varied. In every machine, you’ll find pretty much the same assortment of snacks and drinks. And some of these food options are more appealing than others. Here are the hits and misses of vending machine snacks across campus:


Hit: The watermelon Sour-Patch gummies. These are my go-to snacks for when I’m craving straight sugar. They are a bit more pricey than typical vending machine snacks, which usually run at $1.25, at $3. However, they’re a perfect mixture of sour flavor and fake watermelon. Eating these from the second floor Academic Hall vending machine throughout my freshman year has turned these into my favorite candy of all time.


Miss: Keystone Party Mix, both the regular variety and the ‘Hot and Zesty’ variety. The only reason I ate these was because someone who used the vending machine before me must have purchased them and they got stuck, so when I ordered my vending machine delicacy, I got a two-for-one deal. For a free snack, I can’t really complain. However, I wouldn’t pay money for these. They’re trying so hard to be Chex Mix, and to live up to the Chex Mix hype, however they don’t. They taste . . . off. Like, plastic-y air. And the ‘Hot and Zesty’ kind are not hot nor are they zesty.


Hit: The T.G.I. Fridays Potato Skins. These are straight fire. The local T.G.I. Friday’s back home closed down a couple years ago, and these vending machine gems really fulfill my craving for that classic T.G.I. Friday’s flavor. They are salted and seasoned just perfectly. Every time I eat them, I am reminded of being a theater kid in middle school and descending upon the restaurant like a plague following our Friday night performance of “The Wizard of Oz.”


Miss: Any of the “Mrs. Freshley’s” pastries. These are trying and failing to impose on Little Debbie’s corner on the ready-to-eat pastry market. One of these offerings, simply titled “Cupcakes,” is just a blatant knock-off of Ding-Dongs. And they simply do not compare to the originals in terms of taste. 


Hit: The KitKat BigKat. Yes, the taste and texture of this lovely morsel is the exact same as the regular and even the king-size KitKats, however the BigKat is incredibly thick. Actually, excuse me: thicc. And I’d put even more c’s if I was just a little bit more unhinged today. The KitKat BigKat is like the perfect amount of chocolate to consume at a time. Every time I recall purchasing and consuming the BigKat, I am filled with joy. 


Miss: Classic Nacho Cheese Doritos. Okay, okay, hear me out. I love Doritos of all flavors. And I mean, love. But that’s why these are a vending machine miss. The snack-size bag of Doritos available within our university’s vending machines are simply not enough to satisfy my love for Doritos. I can and often do slam an entire Party Size bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos at a time. Does my digestive tract regret it not too long after? Always. But do I ever feel ashamed? Never.


Hit: Mountain Dew in most flavor varieties. Classic Mountain Dew is great, you cannot go wrong there. But I am a big fan of the Code Red variety, available in the first floor Academic Hall vending machine. Code Red Mountain Dew is incredibly elite, and anyone who has tasted it would definitely agree. I am also a huge fan of the Voltage variety, available in the second floor Academic Hall vending machine. Voltage Mountain Dew, paired with the watermelon Sour Patch gummies, was my go-to middle of the night snack freshman year. The sugar intake was incredible, my dentist hated me, but I have no regrets.


Miss: Mountain Dew LiveWire (the orange one). It tastes the exact same as Orange Fanta, except worse. Just go to 7-Eleven and get some Orange Fanta. 


Hit: Apple Snapple. I love the taste of artificial apples, in the morning, the afternoon, the evening, anytime. And yes, the taste of apples is artificial. Apple Snapple, like a lot of “juice” drinks on the market, contains only 10% juice. But it still tastes crisp and fresh. This is a good choice if you want to drink something that tastes like it doesn’t have a lot of sugar in it, even though it totally does.


Miss: Any of the Monster Energy drink varieties. I just don’t like Monster. The Point Cafe’s selection of RedBull flavors is much better to choose from, if you need an energy drink. I really just prefer coffee instead, brewed fresh from my own Keurig.


That is my definitive list of hit or miss options from the campus vending machines. I may not be an expert . . . but I’ve eaten a lot of snacks. And I like to think that I have taste. Still though, I invite you to challenge me on these selections! We can duke it out over Zoom, and it would be a good excuse to revisit some of my favorite snacks that our university’s vending machines have to offer.