'Round the vend - what food can you get from a machine?
April 8th, 2014
12:21 AM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

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 United States in terms of vending machine cuisine, 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.
Take this quiz to reinforce just how rich America’s vending machine bounty now is.

Which following foods are available from vending machines in the U.S.?

1. Caviar
2. Salad
3. Pizza
4. Champagne
5. Cupcakes
6. Pie
7. Wine
8. Ice cream
9. Burritos
10. French Fries
Good luck!

1. Caviar: YES
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 per ounce) to Imperial River Beluga ($500 per ounce). And who doesn't want to walk around the Westfield Mall with $1,000 worth of caviar?  

2. Salad: YES
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. 

3. Pizza: NO
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 U.S., 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. 

4. Champagne: NO (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. 

5. Cupcakes: YES
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 four 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. 

6. Pie: YES
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. 
7. Wine: NO
To monitor wine sales in grocery stores, assorted Giant Foods set up a series of wine vending machines in Pennsylvania 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.

8. Custom Blended Ice Cream: YES
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.

9. Burritos: YES
The bright orange Burrito Box (@BurritoBox) mysteriously appeared in a Mobil station in Los Angeles 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.

10. French Fries: NO (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 U.S. any minute. It takes about 90 seconds for the machine to fry the potatoes, which you can have with a choice of sauces, like ketchup and mayonnaise. 

How many did you get right? Share your score in the comments below.

More from Food & Wine:
Delicious Sandwich Recipes
On-the-go Snack Bar Recipes
Amazing Dessert Bars
Ice Cream Sandwich Recipes
Incredible Cupcakes

Cupcake ATM vends sweet treats around the clock
Rage against the vending machine
Japan Eats: Thirsty in Japan? Ask a machine for a drink
Tokyo vending machine tempts runners with tomatoes

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Filed under: Content Partner • Food and Wine • Vending Machines

soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. cali girl

    I want the George Jetson vending machines. Walk right up, press a button, and in the mouth it goes.

    April 9, 2014 at 7:17 pm |
  2. Chris

    I'm 26, but I know for a fact vending machines use to have whole lunches in the old days. Doesn't anyone remember the Flintstones or Bug Bunny getting whole pies from toaster-oven/microwave door size vending windows that opened to produce pies and lunches? A hospital I use to go to as a kid had them until they took them out and put new machines in.

    Some of these things are not that new in concept, its just likely new to certain areas.

    April 9, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
  3. rockstart42

    I have seen everything on the list in a vending machines. All you have to do is get out more and go to a military base even. I have seen friends and even a baked potato in vending machines. I know in Japan you can get any alcohol beverage you want out of a vending machine.

    April 9, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
  4. George

    I don't know who compiled this list, but pizza has been available from vending machines at my work place for longer than I have worked there.

    April 9, 2014 at 8:01 am |
  5. Thinking things through

    I have seen salad in a vending machine (hothouse tomatoes with no flavor, and iceberg lettuce), but none of the other items. Well, if you consider Twinkies to be cupcakes, then yes, I've seen those.

    April 8, 2014 at 8:06 pm |
  6. johndoe

    Oh and this article says there are no pizza vending machines in the US? I've seen them here years ago...

    April 8, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
  7. johndoe

    We shipped all our manufacturing jobs overseas.

    Now if you want a pizza you just have to vending machine make it for you instead of a real person. Sweet!

    Oh don't forget to pick up your movie from the red box. Quick before someone else gets in line!! You don't want any human interaction, do you?

    April 8, 2014 at 3:08 pm |
  8. Wizard of Auds

    Our Monaco Pictures have had a wine vending machine in the Prive section since they opened a few years ago. See http://www.monacopicturesusa.com/winetasting.html. The section is open only to 21+ and you can't take the wine out of the section. Not in a glass, anyway.

    April 8, 2014 at 12:25 pm |
  9. farmfoodie

    Someone need to get back on that Wine vending machine idea!!

    April 8, 2014 at 11:31 am |
  10. Ryan

    We had a french fry vending machine in our factory here in Cincinnati something like 5-6 years ago. How many did YOU get right?

    April 8, 2014 at 11:26 am |
  11. RC

    A bacon vending machine..........Mmmmmmmmm.....

    April 8, 2014 at 11:00 am |
  12. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫


    April 8, 2014 at 10:35 am |
  13. JellyBean

    French fry vending machines are going to get me in so much trouble especially if they have chili and cheese.

    April 8, 2014 at 7:57 am |
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