In the United States coin-operated drink machines - generically called "coke machines" - are ubiquitous consumer objects regularly punctuating our everyday landscapes. We feed them our money and out roll individually packaged liquid refreshments. During the last years of the Cold War designers in the East Bloc developed their own regional version of the "coke machine". It did not sell Coca-cola, a Western capitalist product only available in special-access stores. And drinks were not sold in individual containers, but rather fizzled into one single communal glass from which all consumers drank. Below is a picture of an East-Bloc coin-operated drink machine. The photo was taken in the Soviet Union, although similar machines could be found in Czechoslovakia and other East-Bloc countries. In some cases, instead of drinks pouring into a simple glass like the one depicted here, they poured into a beer mug attached to the machine with a chain so that no one could inadvertently (or advertently) walk off with the communal vessel. This photo was taken by David Hlynsky, an American-born photographer of Polish-Ukranian descent living in Canada, and can be found with his other very intriguing pictures of everyday life in the former East Bloc at his website.
To see the associated Teaching Module on Everyday Life in Eastern Europe, click here.
David Hlynsky, Juice Vending Machine with Communal Glass, Moscow (Soviet Union, 1990), Hlynsky Photos (accessed June 24, 2008).