Sunday, March 15, 2009

Vending Machines

The late and great standup comedian Mitch Hedberg once said, "I wanna make a vending machine that sells vending'd have to be real *** big." Obviously he was joking around...but vending machines are like straight out of the Jetsons these days. Yes, there are still the machines with the candy bars and chips and the regular soda ones, but whether you've seen them or not, vending machines are no joke anymore...

This is pretty much old news, of course, in Japan. They sell virtually everything you can imagine in vending machines: eggs, rice, hot Ramen, fried foods, liquor, beer...and those are just the regular foods/drinks that we're familiar with. They also sell crazy Japanese foods like water salad?? But the vending does not stop with food and beverages. You can find umbrellas, fishing line/hooks, toilet paper, flowers, batteries...the list goes on.

When I'm talking about impressive vending machines, I'm not talking about machines that drop something down to a dispenser. I'm talking about some inner prep work, giving you something that normally a person would either create with their hands or have to use their hands to move between machines to prepare it:
  • Pasta machine - this machine has a pressure cooker and prepares you spaghetti in 90 seconds
  • Fresh Churros machine - have you ever had a Churro? If not, go find one immediately. It's fried goodness...and that fried goodness can literally be fried in a machine at your push of a button and delivered to you hot and fresh.
  • Hot Dog machines - speaking of delicious food that's not good for you, there are machines that will sear a hot dog and toast a bun in less than 30 seconds.
  • Ice Cream machines - now, ice cream is in the more common vending machines, but they dispense you prepackaged ice cream cones, sticks or cups. The "Moobella" machine actually mixes sugar, milk and cream and flash-freezes it for you.
And the reason I bring the topic up...the latest one that I read about...
  • Pizza machine - this machine mixes flour, water, tomato sauce and other ingredients, moves it into an oven and delivers it to you on a cardboard tray. The question is, what about the pizza cutting?
I don't think these vending machines are ever going to be able to overtake actual human-resourced food businesses, but hey...I'd be curious to know how pizza tastes out of a vending machine, so their novelty probably won't wear thin anytime soon.

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