Food Showdown: Which Vending Machine Snack Should You Unwrap?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Ah, the infamous vending machine. It's great and convenient when you need an afternoon pick-me-up, but you probably already know that most vending machine foods are not the healthiest choices. Here are two common vending staples, both from Hostess: the cherry-flavored Fruit Pie and a three-cake serving of Ho Ho's. Okay, the cherry pie does contain some fruit, but also has lots of sugar. The Ho Ho's are chocolate cake with cream, but one package usually contains three cakes! If you want a good size treat, which of these Hostess treats will satisfy your sweet tooth for fewer calories?

The Winner: Ho Ho's!
Even though this package contains three cakes, it will set you back 375 calories and 18 grams of fat.  While this is a lot of calories for a snack, you could easily split this package with one or two friends or co-workers.  Don't let the cherries in the Fruit Pie fool you. The entire pie contains 480 calories and 20 grams of fat.  If you must choose a vending machine snack, pretzels (about 110 calories per serving) make a good low-cal choice.

What's the healthiest vending machine snack you've tried?


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NANASUEH 3/15/2020
thanks Report
CECELW 10/7/2019
I could probably use a 12 step program for chocolate! haha Report
RAZZOOZLE 7/26/2019
thank you Report
ERIN_POSCH 7/14/2019
who'd a thought =) Report
I usually get nuts. But I love chocolate & sometimes I get dark chocolate! Report
Thanks for the great info! :) Report
Not big on vending food. Have used them for drinks though. Report
I steer clear of vending machines. I don't like to spend extra on snacks when I know I have and can pack healthier snacks from home. Saving money and the calories...and the carbs! Report
I don't go near them......................but if someone else brings it in oh man do I have a problem. Just this morming hubbie placed a chocolate bar on the table. I called him on his cell and asked whose candy was that on the was thrown away this was a good day but there are bad days. GROWL! Report
I try to make it a habit to avoid the vending machines. I also try not to carry any money when I volunteer. This way I'm not tempted to buy anything. Since I have food allergies and have become vegan I am really careful what I eat and prefer to read the ingredients before I eat it. Report
Go for the nuts! Good fat! :) Report
I will also add that vending machines are removed from schools in BC - not sure of university or college but public schools do not have machines except juice. Report
I haven't used a vending machine since the early 80s. If I ever felt the need to use one, it would be for crackers as many carry those ritz peanut butter crackers. I don't have a big sweet tooth, so I'm not tempted by sweets in the machine. I usually avoid them because the items are overpriced and tend to get stuck in the machine (so they don't fall down). Plus, many times in smaller centres the food inside the machine is old and outdated. (at least that was my experience) Report
Oh my gosh, PHIREBALL, I did the same thing! Or at least, every Wednesday in high school (we had a longer lunch on Wednesdays), I would leave campus with my friends and my lunch menu consisted of: a slice of pepperoni pizza, a bag of Krunchers jalapeno chips, a Hostess cherry fruit pie, and a bottle of Snapple mango madness. !!! It is amazing to me that I ate like that even just once or twice a week! Then again, I had the metabolism of a teenager, and participated in three seasons of sports.
Glad to say that my lunch tastes have matured, and I don't usually stop by my office's vending machine (it's in the basement) :) But I still sometimes pass longingly by the Hostess stand at a gas station... Report
I don't think this blog is saying that you should count on vending machines, or that packing a healthy snack isn't a better option. I think it is talking about those times where you are stuck. For example, ever had to make an unplanned trip to a hospital and sit there for hours upon hours? Without having had time to pack a healthy snack and unable to leave because you are waiting for news? What then.... Report
Well i'm here to say that I work out hard and I too am a runner. Sometimes I will treat myself to a snack in the vending machine. Yes, I usually reach for the healthier options but sometimes, on a long night (I work overnight) I fee like having a snickers. And you know what; I do! lol... Most people who know me would say I am a healthy person, but I do believe in treating myself sometimes. So yes, the vending maching could be the devil if you let it, but if you know you workout hard and lead an overall healthy lifestyle then treat yourself sometime! I know one family who would only eat organic and they cooked very healthy all the time. Well 3 out of the 5 family members have serious health issues; my point is, try to be as healthy as you can, but know it's not necessarily the vending machine that will cause you to suffer health issues. Report
the vending machines at work take credit cards
how rude is that

I have in moments of desparation gone for the animal crackers, not the best thing but sometimes they do hit the spot. Report
I go. I look. I leave. All crap. I pack. I enjoy. I'm healthy. :) Report
I usually bring enough healthy snacks to work that I'm not tempted by the vending machines, however we do have some healthier options in addition to the usual array of candy bars. The refrigerated machine even contains Chobani yogurt. Report
I rarely hit up the vending machine for snacks, but fortunately one of our vending machiens at work has some "healthier" snacks: Special K bars, Quaker mini rice cakes (Quakes), Fiber One bars, almonds, peanuts. It's nice to know I can get something besides a Snickers bar if I'm hungry and stuck. Report
Thank goodness not a fan of vending machines! Report
when I was in high school I bought hostess apple or cherry pie on a daily basis. I still love those nasty things! And I'd kill for their chocolate cupcakes with the white swirl on top. Grown-up decision time: no more hostess pies or cupcakes for me. Report
I don't work in an office, so vending machines aren't a problem for me, however, if we're on the road and stop at a rest area I look for peanut butter crackers or nuts. Report
Just bring along something to package up part of the snack. For instance, the cherry pie is usually about 400 calories. Half that is a nice small meal for me. So I'll pack up half of it in a cheapie sandwich bag tightly wrapped and place in a zip bag. At home, I actually freeze the other half. Same thing with any kind of donut or pastry or whatever - cut it up into the size you want, wrap, and freeze. I do that with protein bars like Clif Builder bars also - 10 grams protein in half a bar (about 130 to 140 calories, I think) is fine for me, just wrap up the rest for later. Breaks easily in half while still in the unbroken package. Same with Nature Valley granola bars, they come 2 in a package so I just eat one at once. No need to be a slave to the serving size suggestion on the package. Just carry around the proper things to save for later, either plastic bags or whatever container will work. Report
Avoid vending machines like I avoid drive-thru fast-food restaurants. It's all JUNK in my book. I never leave home without a 24 oz tumbler of my own filtered ice water and either a protein bar or piece of fruit. Report
For me, a vending machine is just another form of Fast (or Junk) Food, so I don't use them.
I did, however, used to lower my resistance and voluntarily gave my older son money to get himself a mars bar. But then, he had just had a heavy 2 or 3 hours of karate at that point, and he was going through his various growth spurts in his teens. Report
When I have to use a vending machine, I first look for fruit snacks, second the sweet and salty nut package, and lastly a bag of crackers or chips. I would buy practically any candy bar before choose a Ho Ho or a cherry pie. Report
I agree with some of the other comments: if I MUST grab something from the vending machine, I grab nuts. Or I suck it up and get nothing at all. I never liked Ho-Hos and I've never even bothered with the cherry pie thingy. They sound disgusting! Report
Wow I can not remember the last time I had anything from a vending machine but I know I would not have chosen a Ho Ho ick! I thinik we had trail mix in the ones when I was in collage Report
The rare occassion I buy from a vending maching I choose the least processed which is peanuts or almonds. Report
I don't recall the last time I bought anything from a vending machine.... Like fast food restaurants, my family has become completely blind to these. Well, maybe w/ the exception of my 8yo, but he knows better than to ask! ;-D Report
LOL! Too bad Ho Ho's don't look that good! I have never seen a Ho Ho look as good as the one in this pic! Report
I don't have any vending machines where I work. No point where I work, it's a convienence/pharmacy store where we sell snacks. One nice thing, I don't even notive the candy anymore it seems. Plus, in most cases, I know that some of the candy has been sitting there for ages, I don't recall the last time the managers even ordering new chocolate bars, unless the plano gets redone, or the expiry has come and gone (which for some reason has become my job to check). Report
Luckily, there are NO vending machines where I work... in my home. And since I am in charge of what snacks ARE available... there are no ho-hos around anywhere. Besides, what could be worse than prepackaged "junk food" snacks? Report
Being that Ho-ho's are one of the foods that put me at the weight I was 7 years ago, I know a ho-ho when I see it, and that ain't no ho-ho in the picture...just sayin :P (but I do miss my ho-ho's! mmmmmm) (good job they don't sell them in the UK) Report
I do not use Vending Machines at all. God bless You and Have a Wonderful Week. Report
I try to avoid vending machines. Report
i try to bring fruit to avoid this habit. if i must spend money in a vending maching I think I could go for pretzels. Report
I always get peanuts or almonds if I have to get something from a vending machine. Report
Frankly, they both sound vile. Laras and Lunas for me, thanks! Report
I love that there's a refrigerated vending machine in the building I spend most of my time on campus. They usually have low fat (or fat free) yogurt, fresh fruit or veggies, or some other relatively healthy snacks. They didn't when I needed something one day last week though, which means I went with something less than healthy Report
Why not the twinkie? I don't like those.... Report
I don't know if I have ever tried a hoho. I have ended up going for the peanut butter or cheese crackers lately. There also are the small packets of peanuts. I have never seen a vending machine with yogurt, granola, fresh fruit and vegetables. The ones at my job have "honey buns" that are 600 calories a piece! Report
Of the two choices given, I'd say either wrapper would be better for you. You'd be less hungry an hour later than after all that sugar. Report
We have one at work and the only thing that I could find on Friday was Planter's Peanuts. I figured that was the healthiest option since most fruit snacks have HFCS. I've been avoiding HFCS like the plague. Report
I don't eat from vending machines especially these nutrient devoid choices - filled with preservatives!!! Report
I sure was hoping it was the Ho Ho's! Glad I was right. Go chocolate! Report
I guessed the wrong one! Darn fruit tricking me.

I haven't eaten anything out of a vending machine in ages. I am grateful to the comments posted so I know some healthier options if the situation ever comes up.

I have always liked the little snack size bags of Baked Lays. They are filling and yet only 110 - 120 calories depending on the flavor. :) Report
I was stuck in the hospital last weekend with my mom. I had missed lunch, and dinner and by the time 5 came around I was starved. The hospital cafeteria was closed since it was Saturday, and all I had was the vending machines. Absolutely terrible choices- I ended up with a snickers (went for something with nuts for protein) since both the trail mix and the fruit snacks were "stuck". Disappointed that healthier snacks were not available, particularly in someplace like a hospital. Had to go back later for something else to eat while we waited for a room, and ended up with doritoes. Not even baked. Next time I'm grabbing something from home, even if it's an emergency. Report