Fort Mill Times

Column: Man versus vending machine

I don’t consider the Lance Peanut Bar a true candy bar.

It has no chocolate, no caramel and nothing creamy. I had no knowledge of this bar until last summer when my husband and I were traveling. We found ourselves face to face with a rest area, vending machine. That’s when my husband spotted it – the Lance Peanut Bar.

It was like he found gold for the cost of a dollar.

He carefully unwrapped his treasure and offered me the first piece. I scowled. I flinched. I hesitated. But hungry and road weary, I accepted. That’s how I became selectively addicted to the Lance Peanut Bar.

I never buy this bar. I never think about it. And I never eat it, unless, I’m on the road. Something about traveling alters my normal behavior and I don’t think I’m alone.

On a recent trip, I saw a truck driver spitting something out of his window. Normally, I wouldn’t tell my husband to take his eyes off the road, but since we were in slow, moving traffic, it seemed safe.

“Look at that truck driver.” I said.

“What about him?” My husband inquired.

“He’s spitting something. It’s… It’s sunflower seed shells!” I gasped in disbelief. “Is that littering?”

“I don’t know.” My husband replied. “Maybe not if they decompose.”

I looked at the truck driver and wondered, “Did he do that kind of thing at home? Spit sunflower seed shells. Or was being on the road to blame?”

I began noticing other strange behavior. I saw people trying to steer vehicles with no hands while they were chowing down burgers or shuffling papers; Others had their feet dangling out car windows and others were stalking rest area vending machines.

Wait, that was us.

We searched every rest area in pursuit of a Lance Peanut Bar. Our mission seemed impossible. Then, we cruised into the last rest area before our destination.

There it was, the elusive, Lance Peanut Bar, first in line, ready to drop. My husband slid a dollar in. The bar slid to the edge and teetered.

“Oh, no.” I exclaimed. “It’s stuck.”

Yep, people thought we were weird. But something about a road trip alters normal behavior, my husband included. One thing he’d never do is nonchalantly, strong-arm a rest area vending machine. Yet, he did. The Lance Peanut Bar dropped and snagged the one behind it.

“Two!” I gleamed.

You would have thought I found gold. Normally, I’d feel guilty about that no-no, BOGO. Thankfully, I had the road to blame.

Karen Tomas is a resident of Fort Mill. Reach her at