Photo © Rubberball / iStock
Spring! Finally! Farmers' markets are in full effect, boasting gorgeous and colorful fruits and vegetables straight from the ground, the trees, the bushes.
So this seems like a good time to take stock of all the awesome things you can now get straight from a machine. Asia and Europe have been way ahead of the US in terms of vending-machine cuisine—French fries, pizza—but now we're starting to catch up. Happily, a lot of this food is, if not exactly fresh from the soil, at least frequently refreshed inside the vending-machine case.
Let's take this quiz to reinforce just how rich America's vending-machine bounty now is.
The following foods are available from a vending machine: True or False?
8. Ice Cream
10. French Fries
1. Caviar. TRUE. With three locations in L.A., Beverly Hills Caviar (@gourmetfood) is one of the fancier items you can get from a vending machine. The selection ranges from Spicy Black American Caviar ($25/oz.) to Imperial River Beluga ($500/oz.). And who doesn't want to walk around the Westfield Mall with $1,000 worth of caviar? beverlyhillscaviar.com
2. Salad: TRUE. Farmer's Fridge (@FarmersFridge) currently has three locations in Chicago; more are supposedly on the way. "Don't think of Farmer's Fridge as a vending machine," says Farmer's Fridge website. "It's a veggie machine." For the purposes of this quiz, it's a vending machine and it's made from Chicago-area reclaimed wood. Among the options: Detox Salad (kale, quinoa, sprouts, fennel, pineapple, blueberries, white beans and cider vinegar–lemon dressing); Greek yogurts and berries; and even salmon salad. Everything is packaged in recyclable plastic jars, and all ingredients are organic when possible—plus, all food is replaced every day. farmersfridge.com
3. Pizza: FALSE. Pizza-vending machines have been around in Europe for years, and in 2012, Let's Pizza announced that they were bringing the automated pizza machine to the US, where they were looking at locations like hotels, supermarkets and universities. We could look forward to a 24-hour pizzeria, serving piping hot, 10.5-inch pies made from scratch (dough kneaded, pie topped and baked) in less than 3 minutes. Unfortunately, the machines seem never to have arrived; if they have, they're operating in secrecy. letspizza.it
4. Champagne: FALSE (trick question). Moët & Chandon (@MoetUSA) introduced the world's first Champagne vending machine last November as part of a holiday display—but that was in London, at Selfridge's department store, where the machine offers 200-ml bottles for $29 apiece. moet.com
5. Cupcakes: TRUE. The L.A.-based Sprinkles Cupcakes (@sprinkles) made news a few years ago when they introduced the 24-hour cupcake ATM. The newest cupcake-vending machine opened a couple of weeks ago on Manhattan's Upper East Side. You can buy up to 4 cupcakes at a time for $4.25 each, and they are restocked throughout the day. If you're looking for a cupcake ATM in Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta or Beverly Hills, you'll find one there as well. sprinkles.com
6. Pie: TRUE. At Berdoll's Pecan Farm (@BerdollPecans) in Cedar Creek, Texas, outside of Austin, the vending machine that sits outside on the porch is an all-hours pecan resource. Specifically, it offers super-fresh pecans, as well as chocolate-covered ones and brittle. But the reason this little machine appears here is because of the freshly baked, 9-inch pecan pie that you can purchase for $17.50. berdollpecanfarm.com
7. Wine: FALSE. To monitor wine sales in grocery stores, assorted Pennsylvania Giant Foods set up a series of wine-vending machines in 2010. The high-tech machine first asked for ID, then had the consumer blow into a Breathalyzer and took a picture via surveillance camera, which was remotely approved by a state employee in Harrisburg. But in 2011 the state's liquor board called it quits on the machines. giantfoodstores.com
8. Custom Blended Ice Cream: TRUE. MooBella's (@MooBellaInc) create-your-own-flavor of ice cream–vending machines boasts up to 96 different flavor combos. At one of their multiple Northeast locations, you can choose from a Premium or Light base, 12 different flavors (cake batter, vanilla, and butter pecan for example) and three mix-ins (chocolate chips, cookies 'n' cream and M&M's). MooBella's ice cream is made in the machine they say, so that it's fresher tasting and has less ice crystals than most ice creams, especially ones coming out of a kiosk. 22.214.171.124/moobella-ice-creamery-machine.php
9. Burritos: TRUE. The bright orange Burrito Box (@BurritoBox) mysteriously appeared in a Mobil station in L.A. one day; now there's a second location inside a Century City 76 station. The company's goal is to give the consumer a "hot, delicious burrito in 60 seconds," at $3 a pop. The five flavors include Chorizo; Bacon; Roasted Potato, Egg & Cheese; Shredded Beef & Cheese; and Chicken, Rice and Beans. You can also get sides of guacamole and sour cream, and, most thoughtfully of all, mini bottles of Tabasco. tastetheburritobox.com
10. French Fries: FALSE (as of right now). The Robo French Fry Machine was released last year and has already been called the "Rolls-Royce of vending machines" by the New York Post. The Robo French Fry-er is supposedly currently in action in Iran, Croatia and Chile; word is that it's coming to the US any minute. It takes about 90 seconds for the machine to fry the potatoes, which you can have with a choice of sauces (i.e. ketchup, mayonnaise). beyondte.com