Do you want to buy some cigarettes, eggs, candy, bus tickets, bike tires or condoms? There's an automat for that. While Americans are used to getting Coke and cash out of machines, Germans take vending to another level.
Cigarette machines, long ago eliminated in the U.S., are on almost any street corner here. To prevent underage smoking, you have to swipe your national ID card in the machine before you can buy your smokes. Then the machine knows if you are of age, which is 18 (of course, if you are only 13 it's ok. You can just swipe your older brother's ID or your mom's that you stole out of her purse..).
And then there's the condomat. These require no ID. Germans are not squeamish about nakedness (see the FKK post) or about safe sex. There are more cigarette machines than condom machines, but not by many.
This is my favorite one - a condomat next to a candy machine. Even better, they are in a small town, in front of a farm where you can go on a pony ride. Something for everyone.
What if you are out on the bike visiting small-town vending machines and get a flat tire? Never fear. In this cycle-friendly culture, there are also tube automats. A bike tube is called a Schlauch, so the vending machine has the charming name Schlauchomat.
And finally, the egg machine, or Eierautomat. Put your money in an pull out a half-dozen free range beauties. You can also purchase canned sausages and potatoes (when in season).
Is there something essentially German about the automat? Yes and no. Yes in that it's efficient and logical and requires no waiting. No because it seems like there could be a job for someone there - like operating an egg/condom/cigarette/canned meat kiosk.
Of course, that would make it harder for the neighborhood kids to buy cigarettes.