I can't even count the number of times I have flown out of Zaventem Airport in Brussels over the past few years. And every time I pass the same vending machines without giving them much thought. But then on my last visit it just hit me. I stopped and took a good hard look at the drink dispensing machine. Now, like most people who grew up in Belgium, I have become desensitized to the image of a little boy doing his "number one" business in public. The reason is very simple: one of Belgium's national symbols is the famous "Manneken Pis", a small bronze fountain sculpture of a little boy urinating going back to the 17th Century. Nobody really seems to know exactly who this little boy was, but a great many stories are bandied about, most of them revolving around ancient battles that took place anywhere between the turn of the first millennium and the 15th Century. 

It appears that some marketing executive in Belgium one day came up with the great idea of using this symbol on a drinks vending machine. It would also appear that after writing his memo and presenting his idea to some committee or other at Coca-Cola Belgium, a decision was made to go ahead with this idea. And now, pretty much all over the country you are most likely visiting if it is Tuesday, you can find the kind of machines depicted in this picture, dispensing what would appear to be, according to the caption at the bottom of the machine, a very particular taste of Belgium. Bottoms up.


AuthorJehuda Saar