Cheese and onion eyelashes, toys, and candy floss – the high-tech vending machines taking over Manchester

Who knew you could buy yourself a set of fake nails without even speaking to a human?

Daisy Jackson Daisy Jackson - 17th February 2024

Back in the day, vending machines used to be for one thing – snacks.

But nowadays – especially in countries like Japan – you can buy just about anything from one of the huge gadgets.

Hot meals, groceries, cocktails, milk, gifts, toiletries, you name it, you can buy it without setting foot in a shop or speaking to a single human.

It was only a matter of time until Manchester got in on the vending machine action, and there are some very high-tech options springing up around the Arndale.

The first that caught our eye in this huge shopping centre is a robot machine selling candy floss creations.


At the touch of a few buttons and depositing £5.20 of your hard-earned cash, a robotic arm will spin sugar into flowers, love hearts, and stars, in an array of pretty pastel colours, before politely handing it back to you through a cat flap.

Located right in the corner of the Manchester Arndale’s food court (bewilderingly close to the toilets), this flashing neon attraction is definitely about as cute as vending machines come.


But it’s not alone.

Down in the main shopping area, just outside Next, stands another pink machine, this time filled with beauty products.

There are false eyelashes disguised as cheese and onion crisps, lipglosses dangling on a keychain, eyebrow gels, lip oils, and false lashes in just about every shape, size, colour and volume you could think of.


They’re cheaper than a lot of lashes too, with pairs starting at £3.

Right next to this is another machine where you can rent a power bank for charging your phone.

Not too long ago there was a cupcake vending machine right outside Wilko (RIP), but in all the months it was there I never once saw it operating.

It’s now been replaced by a Marvel arcade machine.

But just around the corner opposite one of Manchester’s many Subways is another row of pastel-hued flashing vending machines.


One sells items for as much as £23. And what do you get for that? A toy.

This one is the ECTOYS Robo Shop, where you can buy collectable characters like Hello Kitty, Shinwoo and Farmer Bob, plus adorable pandas undertaking different activities.

And just next to that is another beauty-focused vending machine, this one specalising in press-on nails.

Prices for the false talons range from £4.99 to £8.99.

It’s all getting a bit Wall-E out there…

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Featured image: The Manc Group