Seattle's mystery soda machine button provides a refreshing conundrum in Capitol Hill.

The Mystery Soda Machine in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Is a Beloved Local Enigma

The Mystery Soda Machine in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Is a Beloved Local Enigma

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
April 13 2015 10:00 AM

Dare to Press the Mystery Button: Seattle’s Enigmatic Soda Machine

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Seattle’s Mystery Soda Machine dispenses cans of sugary pop for just 75 cents, and while the identity of the person/s stocking this aging landmark is unknown, the real question is what it will spit out when the Mystery button is pressed.

On the corner of John Street and 10th Avenue East, in the heart of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, lies the world’s most mysterious soda vending machine. The true history of the rusting machine, which looks like it was spat straight out of the ’70s, is shrouded in secrecy, but locals continue to plunk down their change and the machine never seems to run out of stock. Who first installed the outdoor machine, who stocks it, and who collects the money are all mysteries. 


The modern antique offers a comparatively limited selection of drinks with yellowed plastic buttons offering Coke, Mountain Dew, Pepsi, and Barq’s, but the intriguing button marked Mystery generally produces none of these. According to a March 2014 report by Vice, spending three dollars in change on the mystery button yields a variety of drinks ranging from a raspberry Nestea to a Hawaiian Punch, none of which had their own button on the machine.

Given the air of the unknown that surrounds the vending relic, many locals have tried to divine the origins of the machine and its endless wellspring of name-brand soda, but so far few answers have been forthcoming, no matter how many times the Mystery button is pressed.

On a side note, should you want to tell the machine how much you like it, it does have its own Facebook page.

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