Dinner from an ATM

I was super excited to hear about the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM that hit the streets of Beverly Hills last month. The vending machine can hold 600 cupcakes available to dessert-lovers 24 hours day for only $4 a piece. While Los Angeles is as far from my home in New York City as a place can be, it has already been reported that a Sprinkles ATM will hit Chicago and Houston this summer. NYC can’t be far behind…

After reading about this, curiosity got the best of me and I went hunting for other novel food vending machine ideas.

  • A quick swipe of your driver’s license and a blow into a breathalyzer can get you a bottle wine in Pennsylvania;
  • It takes only two and a half minutes for a vending machine in Italy to cook a pizza;
  • In Maine, you can feel like your a child at the arcade and catch your own live Lobster with a giant claw — though you only have 15 seconds to do it;
  • German farmers are teaming up with ATM manufacturers to sell fresh milk, eggs, butter, cheese, potatoes and sausages. Some are even set up along Switzerland hiking trails.

Whoa! Fresh perishables? Seafood?

It gets worse.

In Japan, you can buy vegetables from an ATM. I’m not talking about the fruit and vegetable snackpacks that are replacing potato chips and cookies in vending machines in the U.S., I’m referring to full heads of lettuce and broccoli.

It does suit the convenience trend and farm-to-table demand — one farmer in California successfully sells eggs via vending machine, saving consumers a $1 per dozen by cutting out the middleman. However, it lacks the service and human interaction that consumers seek out in their local produce market… and how are you to have any idea how fresh the produce is?

This is not good for supermarkets. Personally, I don’t think it will catch on in the states. But retailers should probably keep it in their radar.

The last thing you want to find along side a soda machine down the road from your store is a bunch of carrots and fresh fish.

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