World's Fastest Pop Machine – Lerna, Illinois - Gastro Obscura
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Lerna, Illinois

World's Fastest Pop Machine

The 40-year-old machine serves soda quicker than you can catch it for a mere 75 cents a pop. 

Sitting outside an old welding shop, surrounded by dozens of lawn mowers, is a faded orange soda machine with an unexpected claim to fame. Though it looks like the weathered grandparent of newer, snazzier snack machines, it’ll serve you a soft drink in record time.

There are technically two separate machines, but one no longer works and must stand idly beside the one touted as the fastest pop machine in the world. For a mere 75 cents, the 40-year-old machine spits out cans so fast, locals say it’s impossible to push the button and catch your drink with the same hand. And though it may not have a touch screen or any other fancy digital additions, residents say it’s still pretty smart—so smart, in fact, it can allegedly tell what you want before you’ve even made your order.

According to one owner of the machine, its antiquated micro-switches are what let it drop pop with a velocity newer models could never dream of. The owners fill the machine with a fresh supply of fizzy delights each week. Though the pop machine has spent years entertaining the residents of Lerna, a tiny village nearly 200 miles south of Chicago with fewer than 300 residents, enthusiasm for it has yet to fall flat. Curious teens and college students stop by from miles away to see the speedy soda superstar in action.

Know Before You Go

The town is so small that it is almost impossible to miss it. If you see a line of about a dozen lawn mowers, you're right on top of it.