The Unexplained: What happened to the Mystery Soda Machine?

When the mystery soda clunked to the bottom of the chute, it revealed itself to be a brand of soda that was rare or mostly discontinued.

This entry is about a vanishing.  It is a mysterious puzzle, not only about why and how the object vanished, but why it first appeared to begin with.  The vanishing is not creepy or macabre, but possibly whimsical.  We need something whimsical to ponder about now, don’t we?

For several years—since sometime in the 1990s–there has been a presence in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle.  It is a large rectangular box, made of metal, the size of a refrigerator—a 1970s era soft drink machine, banged-up and rusty.  It has been quite a tourist attraction over the years.  It appeared out of nowhere one day, on the corner of John Street and 10th Avenue East.

Those who first approached the object noticed that there were six large rectangular buttons to push to get a chilled, soft drink in a can.  At first, you could actually get a Pepsi or a Coke with two of the buttons. 

The other four buttons had a mystery option.  The word “mystery” appeared in quirky letters on the other buttons.  All of the drinks were three quarters each, 75 cents.  What would it be?  More often than not, people selected the mystery option.  It was mildly thrilling. 

When the mystery soda clunked to the bottom of the chute, it revealed itself to be a brand of soda that was rare or mostly discontinued. It seemed as if someone had bought up all of these off or discontinued brands specifically for the Mystery Machine. 

There were cans of Hubba Bubba, Crystal Pepsi, Slice—one vending machine customer was irritated to get a can of sparkling water, but he laughed about it.  It was cold and hit the spot.  All of the odd brands were Coke and Pepsi products.

No one knows who put the vending machine there, nor was anyone ever seen refilling or servicing the machine.  It was always full of cold drinks.  It never failed.  The intrigue went up a notch when all of the buttons became mystery buttons, one day.  You never knew what you were gonna get.  Tourists in the city started going out of their way to view the legendary object.  One tourist used up ten dollars’ worth of quarters seeing what all mystery drinks he could get.

The antique vending machine is not far from Broadway Locksmith.  The locksmiths claim to know nothing about it, although it appears that the power source for the machine was the locksmith shop.  A man and a woman in a white van were finally spotted filling the machine in the middle of the night on just one occasion. 

The curious have asked the City of Seattle who has a permit for the machine.  The City of Seattle responded that they cannot retrieve any records for that.  During the times the machine fell into disorder, probably due to vandalism, the machine was secretly repaired on the spot, under the cover of darkness.  It was running smoothly again, in a short span of time.

Early in 2018, the price on the vending machine went up from 75 cents to one dollar.  The selections remained mystery selections.  

On June 29 of 2018, there was a bare spot where the vending machine had been.  More than one person began a grieving process.  There was a small sign near where the machine had been that said simply, “went for a walk,” signed “Machine.”

After a few months, some interested parties noticed a Facebook page.  The name on the page was:  Mystery Soda Machine.  The September 5, 2018 entry was a photo of the old soda machine positioned in front of the Space Needle.  “HI, IT’S ME!” was the caption for the machine’s selfie.  The Mystery Machine gets around.  There are pictures of it gallivanting all over the globe with selfies, here and there.  They are photo-shopped in placement but the photo of the machine is genuine.

In Seattle, near the “went for a walk,” sign is another homemade sign.  “Please come back,” it says.


Sara Marie Hogg is the author of The Scavenger’s Song. Please click HERE to find the book on Amazon.


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