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Trick or treat at the best vending machines on campus

By Sydney Weiner

If you’re anything like me, you constantly stay up much too late working and need a little treat/any sugar you can get your hands on in order to get those assignments done. In an attempt to stop relying on caffeine (#newyearnewme), you’ve canceled your Panera Sip Club membership and the food points are fading fast. What’s a tired Duke student to do? 


Go to the vending machine of course! A faithful friend who would never turn on you in the robot war my weird relatives are thinking will happen any day now. But beware, dear reader, not all Duke vending machines are the same! Like with the trick or treating you did when you were younger, planning ahead about which houses (or in my case, apartments) you would go to and in what order, you must exercise caution. It’s a spooky world out there, so here’s some advice to grab the treats and dodge the tricks, from my favorite to least favorite.


The Bryan Center:

At the top of my list are the Bryan Center vending machines. Think of them as the houses famous for giving out king sized candy bars and having fun decorations up –the jackpots, if you will. Like the fan favorite trick-or-treating destinations, the Bryan Center machines are reliably well stocked with a large variety of snacks. I mean, Twix truly are the way to my heart. I have also found the most amount of left-behind snacks at this machine rather than the others on campus (how dare people actually take what they’ve paid for!). These vending machines are also near a ton of other vending machines—drinks, electronics, cash (ATMs are basically cash vending machines, right?). Truly the possibilities are endless. Definitely my go-to. 


Southgate Residence Hall:

If, like me last year, you crave a walk off the beaten path, but still wish to end up with something good, then the Southgate vending machines are for you. Like with the Bryan Center machines, Southgate has a beverage vending machine right next to it, so if you decide to go on a cleanse and go back to that caffeine addiction of yours, you’re set. I know some of my other readers from the “backyard” of East Campus will tell me they also have beverage vending machines next to their food vending machines, but they either only have one beverage machines instead of two or are not as well stocked as Southgate’s (I’m looking at you, GA). Admittedly, this is best for freshmen, especially considering that anyone who doesn’t live on East can’t get in. 


Perkins Link:

The vending machine in the Link is pretty good, but not as good as it could be. I will say that I like the vibe of the Link. The people who are studying at the time of night that I’m there are pretty chill and don’t judge me for the amount of kit kats I’m getting to propel me through a measly Econ 101 module. Especially when compared to the fluorescent lighting of the cramped Southgate laundry  room or depressingly brutalistic interior of the Bryan Center ringing with the faint beeps from McDonalds, the Link’s ambience bumps up the appeal of its offerings. I have also discovered some left-behind candy in these parts, but the number of times the candy has gotten stuck and I’ve been charged multiple times for the same piece of candy definitely brings down this location’s rating. With respect to selection and proximity to other vending machines, the Link is good—its neighboring drink machine is packed with options, including my beloved Diet Coke. For the late-night library studiers, the Link has you covered.


The Quad (any):

Duke has tried time and time again to inculcate me with the values of a “quad community” through quad-ex, but they will never succeed in doing so until I no longer have to navigate the labyrinths that are West Campus buildings trying to get some peanut butter M&Ms. Now, I will admit I am one of the lucky ones who lives near my quad’s vending machine (I guess living in the basement of Craven does have some perks), but for so many, the vending machine is just a distant dream, a reachable only after trekking across the quad to do some laundry. Thus, the stakes are higher. On average, these machines are pretty easy to use, meaning that, if the candy you want is there, it’s easy to win big. However, if you’ve walked all the way over there and the candy you’d like is not there, then you've been sentenced to being tricked. By that, I mean either having to walk more or brave the face-to-face interactions at Bella Union. 


Pegram Residence Hall:

This one is personal. My hatred for this vending machine is venomous. It has taken root in my body. You know, they often say that the scariest things are the ones that seem the most normal. Think about horror movies: Cabin in the Woods, Get Out, The Stepford Wives. And this is true of the Pegram vending machine as well. It seems fine. After all, it’s always well stocked! There’s a wide variety of items! But below the surface of that screen that says “tap your card” is a little secret: a constantly malfunctioning electrical system. You see, my dear readers, the Pegram vending machine never. fucking. worked last year. I was only able to get something once–ONCE. Truly scary. It was even worse because I lived on the side of the dorm that the vending machine was on. Each day, like a siren, the vending machine would draw me in. Maybe this time it will work, it said. And so I would try, and then the red light on the screen would startle me. I was truly and utterly tricked. 

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