The Coke Machine
Story circa October 22nd, 1997 | Back to Blog Listing

Jeff Smith filling up a bag with our prized sodas
While there were many, many tiny acts of vandalism that occurred in my freshman dorm room, one of the most exciting ones was that of the Coke machine. It was exciting only because we had heard the details of this particular trick through the grapevine and assumed it was just an urban legend - and a bad one at that.

The idea someone explained to us was that if you managed to inject salt water into the internal machinery of a Coke machine, then for whatever reason it would provide you with free sodas. The idea was that the salt water, being highly conductive of course, would short out the machine and this was the trigger response for a failure. Again, I realize this sounds entirely improbable.

Since my roommates and suite-mates knew that I generally didn't consider consequences to most anything, they encouraged me to give it a go. We got a container of Morton salt and a regular iced-tea pitcher with a nice pouring spout. For whatever reason, the hot water in Dobie was exceedingly hot and this made the experiment all the easier. I filled about 1/6th of the pitcher with salt, filled the rest with hot water, and then stirred them together for a few moments. The water being as hot as it was allowed the salt to dissolve very easily and efficiently. In fact, I distinctly remember how powerful the salt smelled likely due to it supersaturating the water.

I walked out of my dorm with pitcher in hand and proceeded down the hall to the Coke machine. By this time I had a small audience behind me. I carefully started to pour the pitcher of hot saltwater into the coin slot of the machine. While a lot of it spilled down the front, a lot of it also managed to go in. I was probably about half-way through the pitcher when we started to hear what sounded like an electric motor shorting out. It was a sporadic hum at first, but eventually started getting louder and more consistent, almost like a broken door buzzer.

Finally when I was about 3/4 of the way through, there was a loud sound and the Coke machine literally dropped every single coke in the machine. We could hear the sodas fall down the shoot and saw them quickly bottleneck in the dispenser at the bottom. Celebrating and somewhat euphoric from such a stupid suggestion actually working, we bagged up all of the sodas and brought them back into our dorm.

I'm not positive, but I think this became somewhat of an urban legend in the dorm itself as I distinctly remember people asking me if we could really do it. Even stranger is that we continued doing it for months to come, but somehow or another never got questioned about it. Apparently nobody ever took notice of the fact that our dorm room was filled with hundreds of soft drinks and meanwhile the Coke machine right outside of our dorm was often covered with a salt precipitate, empty, and changeless.

And so it happens, if you pour hot saltwater into the coin slot of a Coke machine, you can enjoy the rewards of free sodas!