cover art for What do you know about the Haunted Vending Machine of Capitol Hill Seattle?


What do you know about the Haunted Vending Machine of Capitol Hill Seattle?

Ep. 7

Haunted Vending Machine's_mystery_soda_machine

Inspired by the talk about Bananas and how that supply chain worked

Capitol Hill
's mystery soda machine was a vending machine in Capitol Hill, Seattle

  • Densely populated residential district just east of Seattle's downtown business district.
  • known for counterculture communities and vibrant nightlife
    • home to some of the city's most prominent local coffeehouses. David Schomer's Espresso Vivace on Broadway credited as birthplace of artisanal coffee culture and latte art in Seattle (and thus the United States)
    • associated with the grunge scene from the early 1990s, although most of the best-known music venues of that era were actually located slightly outside the neighborhood
    • Also CHAZ and CHOP in 2020 Protests after the murder of George Floyd

in operation since at least the early 1990s until its disappearance in 2018.

It is unknown who stocked the machine

A drink could be chosen using one of the "? mystery ?" buttons and the dispensed drinks were rare cans that were either ordinarily unavailable in the United States or have not been in circulation since the 1980s.

It has been reported that Lemon-Lime Slice, Pepsi AM, bubblegum-flavored Hubba Bubba Soda, and the infamous Crystal Pepsi could be acquired from the machine — although I have no documented evidence

For much of the machine’s lifetime, the majority of its buttons — at least four of the six — dispensed specific sodas, with only one or two of the buttons bearing the “?MYSTERY?” label. For example, in October of 2002, The Stranger reported that five of the buttons at the time dispensed particular sodas — namely Coca-Cola, Mountain Dew, 7 Up, Barq’s Root Beer, and Pepsi — while just one offered the “?MYSTERY?” option. Photos taken during the summer and fall of 2009, however, show that by that point, only four of the buttons dispensed identifiable sodas — two spat out cans of Coke, one Mountain Dew, and one Pepsi — while the “?MYSTERY?” buttons had grown to two.

By 2014 all of the buttons were Mystery


Not only was each button labeled Mystery, but the machine itself was shrouded in it.

2014 Interview with Vice, Mickey manager of Broadway Locksmith

“I’ve honestly never seen anyone open it,”
“Do people get soda out of it frequently?” I ask him
“Oh yeah, all the time. All day long,”
“ And yet in a decade-and-a-half, you’ve never seen anyone tampering with it or refilling it?” I asked.
“Nope, He must come in the middle of the night on a weekend or something.”

Or, as our theory states, the soda emissary could be a restless, undead spirit able to transcend the laws of space-time in order to supply an endless assortment of carbonated drinks.
Curiously, despite being targeted by countless vandals and irate customers over the years (the machine has a propensity to eat bills particularly, but also sometimes change), Seattle residents familiar with it note it’s almost never out of service and report that any time the machine is damaged, it is generally fixed within a day or so.

A common hypothesis is that the machine is owned and operated by the owners of Broadway Locksmith, which the machine is housed immediately outside of. Supporting this idea is the fact that the machine draws power from Broadway Locksmith and that the heavy padlock keeping it secure was seemingly bought from there. However, if Broadway Locksmith is responsible for stocking the machine, they have made a commendable effort to convince people otherwise. In addition to flatly denying that they have anything to do with it, both the owner of Broadway Locksmith and random employees have stuck to the exact same story over the years while being grilled by everyone from USA Today to Vice. They claim they don’t know who restocks the machine and that they’ve never seen anyone open it up to put something inside or collect the money it contains.

Now, at this point you may have found yourself thinking, “Okay, but surely the city knows who owns the machine because whoever owns it must have a permit or something, right?” Well, Jessica Lee of The Seattle Times had that exact same thought and reached out to city officials about the matter in an attempt to discern once and for all who actually owned the machine. According to Lee, a spokeswoman for the city eventually got back to her and explained that, for some reason, the city didn’t have any records pertaining to the machine in question.

Social Media proves it's not haunted

Pics captured and shared online of actual people stocking the machine
but not the

In January 2018, the same month Seattle passed its sugary drink tax, the machine raised its price from its typical $0.75 to $1.00.

In June 2018, the machine mysteriously disappeared and a message was posted to the machine's Facebook page stating "Going for a walk, need to find myself. Maybe take a shower even." A note was taped to the rail where the machine used to be: "Went for a walk". During this time, its Facebook page featured photoshopped images of the soda machine in a forest and at Machu Picchu.

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