Nestled in the southern half of the state of Illinois once resided a vending machine unlike any other. A machine that would dispense a frosty cold soda faster than you could dig in your pocket for the change. A makeshift oasis in front of an unassuming welding shop in a town where the father of former President Abraham Lincoln used to live.

Except the real story is far less dramatic than that...

The welding shop where the World's Fastest Pop Machine used to sit. Photo Credit: Google Maps
The welding shop where the World's Fastest Pop Machine used to sit. Photo Credit: Google Maps

What is (or was) the "World's Fastest Pop Machine?:"

While down a rabbit-hole I'm still unsure of how I found, I learned that the sleepy town of Lerna, IL — located in Coles County, population 226 — used to be home to what was billed as "The World's Fastest Pop Machine." Once located at 512 Main Street, in front of an old welding shop, the machine was over 40-years-old, and would spit out an ice-cold beverage for a mere 75 cents as recently as 2012.

How is the pop machine so fast? Well, the long-standing myth was that you couldn't hit the button and "beat" the soda (crouch down by the dispense-slot in anticipation). A reporter from KSHB 41-TV tried and failed in a video clip that's garnered over 142,000 views.

How was the Pop Machine So Fast?:

According to Ivan Thompson, the owner of the machines, it was the antiquated microswitches inside the machine that let it dispense soda with an urgency and velocity foreign to newer, modern machines. Even in the video, these machines look ancient. They show their primitive nature with their muted colors and clunky plastic buttons.

According to the video from KSHB 41-TV, hundreds of sodas were purchased from the machine every single day. It wasn't uncommon to see busloads of children park at the post office across the street and each kid aboard to drop three quarters into the machine to receive a soda from the fabled apparatus.

How Cold Was the Pop?:

If the experience of retrieving the drink wasn't enough, apparently the pop it dispensed couldn't be beat either! Apparently, the pop was that breed of cold where it would possess that light slushiness that sometimes happens to that can of soda that gets stuck in the back of your fridge for a period of time. The pop itself wasn't frozen, just a little frosty.

Read more about the "World's Fastest Pop Machine" that once existed in Lerna, IL on Atlas Obscura's website.

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