Cupcake ATM vends sweet treats around the clock
March 8th, 2012
10:45 AM ET
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Editor's note: After a long, hungry wait, New York City finally has its own cupcake ATM.

It all started when Candace Nelson, a judge on the Food Network's “Cupcake Wars,” had a late-night pregnancy craving for, yes, cupcakes. As the founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes - one of the leading forces behind the haute cupcake craze - she should have had 24-hour access to all the vanillas, red velvets, milk chocolates she wanted, but it was not to be.

Sprinkles was already closed for the night, and Nelson’s craving went unsatisfied. The entrepreneur was inspired, and she turned her misfortune into a goldmine: a 24-hour Cupcake ATM.

“It’s the concept of making sure someone can get a freshly baked cupcake at anytime,” said Sprinkles spokesperson Vineet Chaplot. “We have a lot of customers who like to come later at night.”

The vault holds 600 cupcakes and sits in front of Sprinkles’ flagship store in Beverly Hills. It looks a little peculiar among its ritzy neighbors, but at the same time, it fits in perfectly with the star-laden crowd.

To the casual passerby, it looks just like a regular old cash-dispensing ATM, but a second look tells a different story. Customers flick a touch screen to get started, then up pops a menu of cupcakes, cake mixes, apparel and doggie cupcakes. (Yes, those are cupcakes made specifically for dogs.) Then they make a selection, swipe a credit card, and wait for the fun part.

“While the credit card is processing, you’ll see a video of the actual camera on the robotic arm going and getting the cupcake that you’ll receive,” said Chaplot. The robotic arm places the cupcake onto a platform, and then the dainty cardboard box is revealed at the turn of a cylinder.

“We’re stocking the cupcakes day and night, so anyone that comes to get a cupcake is getting a fresh one. It’s not something that’s been sitting in the machine for a long time.”

At the unveiling on Tuesday, dozens of curious cupcake aficionados stopped by Sprinkles to be among the first to try it out.

“I heard about this and I couldn’t believe it,” said Susanna Adler. “I just told my friends in New York that I had to go check it out. It was very exciting. I got to see the entire cupcake box be pushed out. It was like going to an ATM machine, except I got chocolate instead, which is even better than money.”

Some stylish customers were spotted asking their dogs if they wanted their own sweet treat.

Sprinkles exploded onto the bakery scene seven years ago, and developed quite a following among Hollywood’s elite crowd. Oprah, Katie Holmes, Jake Gyllenhaal and Lindsay Lohan are just some of their biggest fans. So it’s no surprise there’s typically a line out the door.

Inside the bustling store, the cupcakes are $3.50 a pop. The same product from the Cupcake ATM will run $4.00, a 50-cent “ATM fee,” if you will, for the packaging, a one-of-a-kind experience, and the convenience.

“I don’t have time to wait in that big, long line. So it’s great, took me two seconds,” said customer Jennifer Denman. “I love new ideas, I love new technology.”

Sprinkles is expanding this technology to their nine locations across the country. New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago will see Cupcake ATMs on the streets this summer and yes, doggie treats at all locales will be the icing on the cake.

Previously - Cupcakes & me: a love story

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Filed under: Cupcakes • News • Vending Machines • Video

soundoff (113 Responses)
  1. 90sBrooklyn

    So she reinvented the wheel..I have been buying a corn muffin from a VENDING MACHINE for 14 years now.

    March 9, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  2. CJ

    It's cheaper to bake your own batch or buy a whole cake and cut off slices. But when the cravings strike, I don't WANT a whole batch of cupcakes or a whole cake. I just want a single cupcake, and that'll hold me over for a few weeks before I want another. To me, $4 for a gourmet cupcake is not unreasonable. I would probably spend the same amount on ingredients to make a whole batch myself, but I really don't need that much food...

    I really like the idea of a 24 hour vending machine that dispenses fresh baked goods. I work long hours and never go to bakeries because I can't make it during business hours... it would be nice to have the option of picking up a REALLY good cupcake after a late night at work.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  3. The Bob

    OMG! This just gave me an amazing idea! I'm going to make a "Potato Chip and Candy Bar" ATM. It will have a glass front so you can see the snacks and they will be held in my metal coil thingies. When you put in money and press a Letter-Number combination the snack will drop out for you! Its the greatest invention that no one ever though about a "Snack" ATM!!!!

    Whats a vending machine?

    March 9, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  4. cheri

    For all of you idiots upset she is calling it an ATM - guess what? ATM is correct: Automatic Treat Machine! :)

    March 9, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Geez

      it's still a vending machine, honey.

      March 9, 2012 at 11:48 am |
      • cheri

        never said it wasn't vending machine.... just said it IS an ATM - Automatic Treat Machine! Same as a bank's ATM is a money vending machine!

        March 10, 2012 at 12:37 am |
  5. william

    Anyone who pays $3.50 or $4.00 for a cupcake has a real problem. Get serious, folks.

    March 9, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • The Bob

      I thought the cupcake trend had run its course and was dying off.

      March 9, 2012 at 11:51 am |
      • Geez

        I suffered from that same wishful thinking, Bob.

        March 9, 2012 at 11:58 am |
        • lmpc

          To Geez, The Bob and all you killjoys out there, let the folks who enjoy their fun have it. The world is a mess and if someone is fortunate enough to have $4 to shell out for a little piece of heaven, so be it. I applaud the gal's ingenuity coming up with a way to dispense a little piece of childhood fun. Too bad you have lost your sense of humor!

          March 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • monah

      The Bob; it hasn't died down yet as evidenced by new episodes of Cupcake Wars on the Food Channel.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
      • The Bob

        I guess im in the same boat as Geez and it was just wishingful thinking on my part. I never understood the craze in the first place, but it is amazing what a little good marketing can do for any product. People always have and always will flock to the next new shiny thing, or sugary thing. But we all need our distractions from the real world from time to time dont we?

        March 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
        • The Bob

          HA! "wishingful" How do I fix the short circuit between my brain and my fingers?

          March 9, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
        • Geez

          Eat a cupcake?

          March 9, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  6. ORLY

    I am not concerned with this cupcake vending machine because it is in Beverly Hills. Everyone is already pretty much skeletal already. Not only that, the drunkorexics can still be hungry at 2 a.m. because the only thing they had that day was 2 drinks at the club. I think this will actually help them keep weight on. It's not like the location of this thing is in the deep south...

    March 9, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  7. bartleb

    Just another way to promote obesity in America! Genius I tell you. How about instead you go make some cupcakes yourself. Oh wait thats right you are too lazy!

    March 9, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • Jackie Wilson's supervisor

      Of course most people aren't going to make a single in other words they would pretty much have to make an entire batch...and then have those cupcakes sit around their house all week...which likely means they end up eating far more than just that one cupcake. Also, they do actually have to get out of their house and to the bakery to buy this cupcake which probably involves more effort than simply walking to your kitchen and making a batch yourself. Other than that though, good comment.

      March 9, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • The Bob

      You do realize that America is way behind in the vending machine trend compared to Japan right? You can get anything from a vending machine in Japan.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  8. CJH

    Quit calling it an ATM. It's a bloody vending machine.

    March 9, 2012 at 7:57 am |
  9. sockpuppet

    how genius. It's called a VENDING MACHINE. WOw give something a new name and suddenly you're an innovator.

    March 9, 2012 at 2:01 am |
  10. goodbyebluemondaylit

    haha, incredible...i can't wait

    March 8, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
  11. John H

    Horn and Hardart for the 21st Century.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  12. BellniniMartini

    Bake them at home, a simple solution. Just another way to market Sprinkles.

    March 8, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • dragonwife1

      Simple and a lot cheaper! Even making cupcakes from scratch, it ends up being less costly. Not that there's anything wrong with cake mixes – they've actually gotten quite good, especially if you add your own touches to them. I might buy a cupcake in a store or from an "ATM" once or twice as a novelty, but I'm too cheap to spend $4 for a cupcake on a regular basis.

      March 9, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • cheri

      nobody's looking for a "solution"; and obviously it's another way for the company to market themselves. that's what companies do that want to stay in business. Market themselves. Duh. I don't know why there's so many people on here putting this down - or is it because you didn't think of it first?

      March 9, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Bob

      I tried that. I wanted a cupcake, so I went to the store to buy ingredients and everything.

      Turns out they don't sell 'half an egg' or a 3 tbsp container of flour, or the correct quantities of ANYTHING that I would need, in order to make a single cupcake.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  13. Jerry

    Well it is only a matter of time before we hear stories on the news on thieves trying to break in to the machine to steal cupcakes.

    March 8, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  14. Lisa

    I want one of those buttercream frosted cupcakes! YUM!

    March 8, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  15. jj

    Asking their dog if it wants a cupcake? Why not just get one and surprise the little guy.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      I don't know why that made me laugh so hard, but it really did. Thank you.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • sockpuppet

      I ask my dog for advice–these people are wasting time asking about cupcakes. I am waiting for his answer on the presidential election.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:04 am |
  16. Drashmont

    CNN – downgraded to check-out trash...

    March 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  17. Jenn

    I want a Chicken McNugget vending machine.

    March 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Marty

      Got it already. It's called drive thru. Can't manage to fatten yourself up enough fast enough you gotta have a vending machine for it?

      March 8, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  18. Angela Kim

    Like if people aren't fat enough.

    March 8, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Benn

      That's ok. We love you anyway.

      March 8, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  19. Molly V

    Does anyone remember the cafeterias of the 1950s with the vending idea? Saw them in the movies! Same kind of thing. I love this idea. Good for her for coming up with something unique.

    March 8, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Yeah, there's nothing quite like a chicken salad sandwich that's been going stale and soggy all day – or longer – for lunch.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:25 am |
    • Jackie Wilson's supervisor

      You're thinking of "Automats" and they were, and are, fantastic.

      March 9, 2012 at 10:49 am |
      • The Bob

        I miss my Nuke-em burgers from High School.

        March 9, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  20. Ludlow Palmer

    An ATM that dispenses food is called a "vending machine." What's the big deal? Hasn't anybody ever seen Hostess cupcakes in one?
    This story is getting WAY more coverage than it deserves.

    March 8, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • keldorama

      You mean the Hostess cupcake that's been in that vending machine for up to a month? The one with an expiration date sometime in 2013? That Hostess cupcake? Yeah, I'll take the Sprinkles version thanks.

      March 10, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  21. James K.

    Does it have to be pink! ?

    March 8, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • The Smart Aleck

      That's what he said, bow, bow, bow.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  22. Slimey

    I have a sister who is a nurse. She gets off her job sometimes like at 4 am... she goes nuts for something sweet and chocolately..... it's hard for me to understand because I never crave sweets or chocolate. But yes I am a woman, the same age as she. At any rate, sometimes she calls me like she's about to kill someone if she can't get sweet and chocolate and I mean NOW. Then once she gets is, she's eats fast and seems to calm down. She has been thoroughly examined for thyroid trouble, diabetes, etc. She comes up in the very normal healthy range on everything.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • The Bob

      Sounds like she has some issues.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  23. jennygirl

    greta...please retire.

    sprinkles...good job! clever marketing gimmick. i wouldn't pay $4, but we don't have a sprinkles here, anyway.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  24. Leo

    eating a cupcake isn't why the nation is obese, it's eating ten cupcakes. Now if they just had a vending machine that dispensed six-pack abs.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  25. mim

    Just what we need; more sugar and loads of fat.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Um

      A $4 cupcake isn't exactly going to make everyone fat. Chances are, you'll buy one, maybe two. If you're going to go for high amounts of fatty snacks, you'll probably go to Walmart or some other convenience store that's open 24 hours.

      This is an innovative idea from a good bakery. How about not pretending as if all you ever eat is carrots and water.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
      • The Smart Aleck

        "A $4 cupcake isn't exactly going to make everyone fat."

        Especially if we slice it thin enough to go around.

        March 8, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  26. JohnnyJett

    How about a 24hr ATM that dispenses a large bowl of Crunch Berries, for satisfying the munchies 24/7 :)

    March 8, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  27. COlady

    ATM = Automatic Teller Machine (as in money). If you put money into something and get food out, it's called a vending machine.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Josh

      If you look at the pic, you will see that it looks a lot more like an ATM than a vending machine.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
      • The Bob

        The new coke machines look like touch screen computers, but they are still soda vending machines. Its the function that makes it a vending machine, not the look.

        March 9, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  28. sameeker

    And here is an ATM fee for you too, cupcake.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  29. Peanut

    This is no flying car.....but I'll take it. thank you technology!

    March 8, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  30. milton waddams

    Where's the insulin ATM?

    March 8, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫


      March 8, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • milton waddams

      "ok but...I didn't get a piece of cake last time"

      March 8, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
      • Steve R.

        Love it!!! Milton!!!!

        March 8, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
  31. Torrey

    Guys, seriously? I know there's a weight problem in our country but a lot of us are responsible enough to avoid it.

    It's a cool idea, I don't think it means any harm.

    Some things just... aren't worth bitching over. Let's not forget how to have fun, sha'll we?

    March 8, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  32. zoey welch

    that is the most awesomest invention in the history of inventions i would fly all the way to beverly hills from florida just to buy a $4 cupcake.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Gregg Thompson

      you are pathetic

      March 8, 2012 at 11:52 am |
      • zoey welch

        look whos talking why not enjoy something you got thats good then to downsize every thing

        March 8, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  33. Gregg Thompson

    Wow, what a worthless article, great job CNN for posting this on your front page with all of the suffering and pain in the world, its nice to now that people will get cupcakes 24/7. I hope people realize that while they are able to get their vanilla sprinkled chocolate surprise cupcake ("OMG, soooo good!"), small children are starving, women are forced into sexual slavery, and thousands of acres of natural habitat are being destroyed everyday. But let's continue to eat cupcakes and talk about how much we love hearing the sound of our own voices, after all, you can't hear cries of help when they're covered by a mountain of sugar and fat.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • dragonwife1

      Apparently you missed the title on this section of the website – Eatocracy – which means this is the food and lifestyle section of the site, not the news section. FOOD – hence a story on cupcakes. There are plenty of stories on the main pages about serious news. I suppose next you'll go over to the sports section and bemoan the lack of "real news" there too?

      March 8, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Leigh

      dude, relax.

      March 8, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Jackie Wilson's supervisor

      Take a deep breath....turn off the computer....and go outside or something.

      March 9, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • The Bob

      This is not a hardcore news article. It is a 'fluff piece'. Some people do enjoy the distraction of a pointless article. Not everyone likes to read about death and destruction all day every day.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  34. Marisa


    March 8, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  35. Marc

    WOW, we really are a fat and lazy society.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • John B

      Took the words right out of my mouth.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:22 am |
      • DC

        ... but probably not the cupcake.

        March 8, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • zoey welch

      yeah we are thats why most peaple are fat but i cant talk bout me being fat and lazy cuz i wiegh 95 pounds lol im just lazy

      March 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  36. LLT

    the funny part is, they come up with it after the government has complained about over weight americans. Michelle Obama must be beside herself

    March 8, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  37. Bob

    As if people weren't fat enough as is...

    March 8, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  38. Phil P

    Umm, that's not an ATM, that's a vending machine. They've had them for about seven decades now......

    March 8, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Pattycakes

      That's the same thing I thought. It's a vending machine for heaven's sake! Don't try to make it sound like some high tech new thing. I guess if they call it a vending machine people won't think it's "cool" enough to pay the extra 59cents. shish

      March 8, 2012 at 11:21 am |
      • zoey welch

        it is a high teck thing since when do you see cupcakes come out of a vending machine lol it technacly an atm

        March 8, 2012 at 11:52 am |
        • SixDegrees

          Uh – Twinkies and HoHos have been falling out of vending machines for decades. It's a vending machine.

          March 9, 2012 at 3:28 am |
    • Josh

      From the pic, it sure looks a lot more like an ATM than any vending machine I am use to.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  39. amy

    Women entrepreneurs FTW!

    March 8, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  40. WhataRipoff

    $4 for a cupcake? No thanks.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • StarBuxx

      Right...and nobody will pay $4 for coffee either.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:06 am |
      • CJ

        I honestly don't hink $4 is expensive for a fancy and convenient cupcake. I guess it depends on how large they are. If they are mini cupcakes then that's a ripoff. BTW, I love the Starbucks comeback (even though I'm not a fan of the franchise). :D

        March 8, 2012 at 11:12 am |
      • WhataRipoff

        That's why the only thing I've ever purchased from St. Arbucks was a bottle of water while in the Middle East.

        I just don't care about high end cupcakes, coffee, etc.

        March 8, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
        • Cupkate

          you sound like a true discerning consumer. Don't worry, it doesn't sound like you're their target market.

          March 8, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Todd in DC

      Cupcakes that are not bought in a supermarket do cost that much. They taste that much better too. If you are trying to save money on food, fresh bakery cupcakes are not the way to go. If you want to be a little decadent though, the higher quality is worth the added cost.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  41. Montague

    She's a man, baby!

    March 8, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  42. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    Next: Bacon ATM

    March 8, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Oorah

      I'm down. What would you charge?

      March 8, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • BooBoo

      OMG! It will have "crispiness" level, different glaze/smoke, pork/turkey/tofu, thin or thick sliced – and fried on the spot. Fresh off the skillet. I'm drooling... Bacon Lover

      March 8, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • The Bob

      Mmmm bacon! Can it just inject the bacon grease directly into my veins too? I love bacon, and just about anything that used to be able to walk at some point in its life.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  43. Jean

    Only in Beverly Hills....

    March 8, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • veronica

      Apparently not.

      "Sprinkles is expanding this technology to their nine locations across the country. New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago will see Cupcake ATMs on the streets this summer and yes, doggie treats at all locales will be the icing on the cake."

      March 8, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  44. jamesbrownIII

    eye lik cupskakez

    March 8, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  45. Judge Dredd

    It's Obama's fault!

    March 8, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • Truth™@Dredd

      Not that's what I'm talkin about!

      March 8, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • zoey welch

      how is it the presidents fualt becuase they make awesome inventions he had nothing to do with it

      March 8, 2012 at 11:55 am |
      • Judge Dredd

        Obama has something to do with everything

        March 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  46. teamom

    There is something intrinsically wrong with doggie cupcakes. Just stick a candle in a marrow bone and the dog will be happy (and probably healthier).

    March 8, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • Oorah

      But the idea of a cupcake vending machine doesn't seem wrong to you? Interesting.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:39 am |
      • Todd in DC

        I've seen a vending machine that despenses solid gold ingots. Compared to that, I have no problem with a cupcake vending machine.

        March 8, 2012 at 11:12 am |
      • teamom

        Ah, no. This is not a new idea. I lived in NYC when the famous Automat was dispensing food. Great times. The only difference here is the format and the paint job.

        March 8, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Desmond

      marrow bone? Why bother, they'll eat cat poo. That's probably what those doggie cupcakes are made from.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:01 am |
      • teamom

        When I was in college we had, in a small apartment, 5-6 people, 3 dogs and 4 cats. One roommate would refuse to change the cat litter, and the dogs had plenty of opportunity to munch, but (to our....dismay....[humour]) did not.
        "Gourmet" doggy food is not new; I think that it's bogus, but then again, I volunteer at a local soup kitchen.

        March 8, 2012 at 11:20 am |
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