Now Australia is following the trend, selling its national icons from vending machines.
No, not koalas or kangaroos, that would be cruel.
But thongs – footwear of choice for Aussies everywhere.
For $20 (very roughly £10) you can now rock up to a mall in Sydney and buy your very own pair from a vending machine.
University of Sydney Business School’s Professor Charles Areni says it’s the start of an Australian trend, with more and more vending machines being used to sell everyday consumer goods – even competing with online retail.
Prof Areni says we enjoy the instant gratification of a vending machine purchase, rather than having to wait for the post to deliver our products.
“We love stereotypes of what types of products are sold from vending machines and which ones are not,” the retail and marketing expert told AAP.
“I predict over the next ten years or so we’ll see more of those stereotypes violated and we’ll have that `Oh my god, look what you can get out of a vending machine’ reaction more and more.”
The company behind the thong-vending machine, Havaianas, installed the first at Westfield Mall in Chatswood, north Sydney, on Friday, and says it’s going to roll out more machines across the country later this year.
Havaianas says it has launched the machine as a means of more directly reaching its customers.
“Innovative ways of advertising and marketing have become increasingly difficult to gain cut-through within the market,” marketing manager Emma Kowaleczko told AAP.
Other countries have used vending machines to sell equally unusual items.
Patients approved to use cannabis as part of medical treatment have for several years been able to buy marijuana from vending machines in Los Angeles.
Rather controversially, baker-cum-entrepreneur Jean-Louis Hecht earlier this year launched two 24-hour baguette vending machines in France.
The baguettes he sells are partially cooked before they are put in the machine, and finished off when ordered, at a cost of one euro.
And in Abu Dhabi the Emirates Palace hotel has a vending machine selling gold bars to affluent tourists and blinged-up locals.