ORLANDO, FL -- Making its American debut at November's Attractions Expo in Orlando, FL, was the Pic N Mix, an eye-catching vending machine that displays 10 selections of bulk candy and enables the patron to purchase a cup with any or several of them. The machine is made by Pure Novelty of Leeds, England, and it's the brainchild of father and son team Steve and Daniel Perkins.
The vending machine is fitted with 10 hoppers, each able to hold 10kg. (about 22 lbs.) of candy. After a vend is initiated, the patron uses a touchscreen interface to make one or several (as many as five) selections within a 30-second period. The machine drops a cup onto the platform of a weighing scale built into in the base of the machine, and individual conveyor belts in each hopper deliver a portion of product to the cup. The scale assures that every customer receives 200g. (just more than 7 oz.).
The Pic N Mix machine stands 2.2m. high -- about 7.22 ft. -- and is 1.6m. wide (5.25 ft.) by 0.7m. (2.3 ft.) deep. The company reports that a smaller companion model, reduced approximately 30% from the size of the flagship vender, is under development. Plans call for its rollout in April of this year.
Introduced to the British and Irish markets at this spring's AVEX show in Birmingham, England, the Pic N Mix vender is said to be performing well at some half-dozen arcade locations. The developers believe it has considerably wider application in sites ranging from bowling alleys and theme parks through airports, hospitals and universities to zoos.
The machine works with a wide assortment of candies developed by British confectioner Candyking, a 30-year-old confectioner that has become a leading supplier of "pick and mix" (bulk) candies in the United Kingdom, Ireland and much of Scandinavia. The value proposition for U.S. operators is that the unit vend price is $5, while the cost of the product portion and the cup is $1.50.
The machine will only accept Candyking products; the Pick N Mix development team notes that other products with unknown physical characteristics could jam and/or cause short-cupping. Moreover, their ingredients would not be displayed correctly to customers, and this could make operators liable for damages in the event of an allergic reaction.
"We supply premium European candy that commands a premium price," the company explained. Common candy available in bulk bags from mass-market retailers at low cost can't be positioned a specialty product of high perceived value. The Candyking products, and the cups, will be supplied through local distributors.
The Pick N Mix system supports full machine monitoring and is engineered for high security. Candies have a shelf life of one year, and items held in the "live" product display can be added to the hoppers and replaced with a fresh batch. The machine is highly visible, and can play a song in attract mode (the one used at IAAPA was, appropriately, "I Want Candy").