It happens every day: Around 3pm, I start fumbling for quarters and trying to decide which unsatisfying, wastefully packaged, nutritionally vapid nugget to get from vending machine around the corner.
But what if instead of candy, chips, and soda, a vending machine could dispense hot pizza and cupcakes? That'd make them more like an automat, and a heck of a lot more enticing.
Good news: There are a growing number of companies working to create vending machines that dispense your favorite treats. It's a new dawn for speedy snacking.
According to Pizza Marketplace, Americans consume 350 slices of pizza a second (collectively, not per person). With five billion pizzas eaten worldwide each year, it's no wonder Dutch company A1 Concepts has created a pizza vending machine.
The coolest thing about this contraption is that it actually constructs and bakes your pizza on request, rather than reheating a frozen pie. The mechanical wonder starts with all the base ingredients like flour, water, and tomato sauce. It only requires 2.5 minutes to prepare and serve a personal size pizza, and each one costs €3.
Just imagine the profits from putting one of these in a college dormitory.
Made by a Chinese company and apparently in use all over Europe, these french fry–making marvels actually deep-fry your frites in 90 seconds, and spit 'em out along with ketchup, salt, and a napkin. In the video above, you can see one in use at a Romanian gas station. Could there be a better place?
American cupcake bakery chain Sprinkles has created a vending that dispenses fresh cupcakes. Let's let that sink in for a second...
Aaaaaand we're back!
Crucially, these aren't just stale pieces of pastry. Each "ATM" (not actually an ATM) is loaded with up to 600 fresh-baked cupcakes, and a rotating flavor selection keeps things even fresher. Bakery staff also stock the machine up after close, giving you a shot at getting a tasty cake while you're stumbling home drunk at 2am.
The success of Sprinkles' L.A. experiment has prompted the company to expand to other cities. Do you think they get more business at lunchtime or just after last call?
Nothing reminds you that you live in an affluent society quite like automated, machine-dispensed fro-yo. Getting the stuff is already pretty easy: You just go to your nearest Pinkberry, Red Mango, or other similar chain location, dispense your desired quantity of underwhelming frozen treat, top it with stale candy, and pay by weight.
But D.C.-based Frobot thinks it can make the whole process even easier with its new fro-yo vending machine. You just swipe your credit card and frozen yogurt comes out.
Is this the future?
Automation has always been met with a mix of excitement and fear. On the one hand, there's been a steady increase in productivity, safety, and precision in the American workplace. And sure, these vending machines have the added bonus of being available 24/7. But on the other hand, not even my job is immune from automation.
You know what? I think I'm going to keep my $1.25 and eat the leftovers I brought from home.