Weird, wacky vending machine cuisine
December 3rd, 2012
10:00 AM ET
Share this on:

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.

Overnight, vending machine food has become the newest luxury status symbol in America. If you’re shopping in the Los Angeles area, Beverly Hills Caviar machines now decorate the malls in places like Burbank and other swanky zip codes so if you want to snack on $500-an-ounce caviar while you do your holiday shopping, you are completely in luck.

You might wonder: Is vending machine cuisine going upscale all over the world? Nope. Overseas, the focus is on comfort food staples, made in a matter of seconds. In Singapore, you can press a few buttons and receive mashed potatoes slathered in gravy quicker than the time it takes to utter the words “instant mashed potatoes slathered in gravy.” Here, a few international vending machine triumphs.

French fries
Australians love the idea of vending machine French fries so much that there are two different brands that will deliver hot fries less than two minutes after you’ve started pushing buttons. One is FoodCube, the other is Hot Fresh Fries. The latter boasts an image of a giant container of fries on the front of each machine. FoodCube’s fries are notable for the variety of condiments you can choose alongside: Ketchup, mayonnaise, tomato sauce or barbecue sauce.

If you’ve ever seen hot milk and coffee dispensed from an automated cappuccino machine, then you have a very good visual of the mashed potato and gravy situation at 7-Eleven vending machines in Singapore (and various other locales). What you might not be able to envision are the vibrantly colored machines themselves, which look like pinball machines as they dispense the steaming mashers. The company behind the machines, Maggi, also sells powdered instant potatoes in case you decide not to go for the vending machine version. But, why would you do that?

The UK-based chain Let’s Pizza has created, what it claims to be, the world’s first pizza vending machine. “A mini pizzeria that’s open 24 hours a day,” is how Let’s Pizza describes itself. In fact, there’s a choice of pizzas: Margherita, pepperoni, ham or bacon. Whichever you select, the machine kneads and shapes the dough, covers it with tomato sauce and select toppings, then bakes it - all in 2.5 minutes flat. Supposedly, Let’s Pizza is a big success in Italy.

Back here in America, the focus remains on luxury ingredients that you can get via machine. It seems like it will be just a matter of minutes before PETA starts protesting the Maine Lobster Game, a live-lobster vending machine that’s popping up in places like Remy’s Bar on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. You pay $3 for a chance to catch a lobster from the tank with something akin to one of those carnival claw games.

More from Food & Wine

America’s Best Pizza Places

Best Burgers in the U.S.

America’s Best Doughnuts

America’s Weirdest Regional Foods

Ultimate Christmas Recipes

© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

Posted by:
Filed under: Content Partner • Food and Wine • Think • Video

soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. palmbeachvendingmachines

    Vending machines are so easy to use and they offer top quality at genuine prices. I love those machines.
    Palm Beach Vending Machines

    January 18, 2014 at 12:59 am |
  2. Troy

    you're actually a good webmaster. The site loading speed is incredible. It seems that you are doing any distinctive trick. Also, The contents are masterwork. you've performed a magnificent job on this matter!

    April 18, 2013 at 6:38 am |
  3. Ted smith

    This guy in apoka fla at lobster zone is total rip off. He takes deposits but never ships any machines
    Total scam beware Ernie Pappas is owner of company

    December 4, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
  4. Dad

    Thought of you when I saw this story.

    December 4, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  5. BeerBrewerDan

    How dare people eat all of those unborn fish! Won't someone protect these poor, defenseless embryos?!?

    December 4, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      I say eat half, use the others for stem-cell research.

      December 4, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • AleeD®

      I'll defend them with my trusty cracker.

      December 4, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
      • Vito@AleeD

        I'd Whack 'em for 'ya.

        December 4, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  6. Nut 'n Bone

    South Korea had the lobster claw machines back in early 2010!


    December 4, 2012 at 4:01 am |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      Mmm! Botulism!

      December 4, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  7. William

    Carl's Jr. F**K you. I'm eating.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
  8. rad666

    Sure hope they put them next to Red Box video rental machines. I can rent a 99 cent movie and get some $500 caviar to eat while I watch the movie.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  9. jj

    No I would not

    December 3, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  10. GiGi Eats Celebrities

    The second they start doling our SASHIMI from a vending machine, I will be first in line!!! Ha Ha! That would be interesting... Albeit, AWESOME!

    December 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  11. palintwit

    My work here is nearly done. Thanks to me Obama has been re-elected, the teabaggers are on the run and Sarah Palin is no longer a household word, but rather a footnote on that dung heap known as Fox News. I have accomplished much and hope someday to retire and write my memoirs. Sharing my political prowess with the rest of the world is the least I can do.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • VladT

      Does this mean we no longer have to read your asinine, idiotic, posts?

      December 5, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  12. iggy

    Japan has a vending machine for everything ! Some necessary like shirts and beer, lots of food machines.USA had many vending food machines in the 50`s. But as fast food came on the scene they disappeared!

    December 3, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  13. Todd in DC

    Caviar can be frozen, but good caviar is served fresh at the higher end restaurants. In any event, it has a ahort shelf life.

    It actually can taste really good. I wonder why some people are bothered by fish eggs, but not chicken eggs. Oh well.

    In any event, if I buy something from a vending machine, ithen it's something that can be stored on a shelf, or something frozen like ice cream or something boiling like coffee.

    Room temperature food that doesn't stay fresh long at room temperature? Thanks, but I'm not that courageous.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  14. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    Where are the scat machines? And those two girls?

    December 3, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • bristoltwit palin... America's favorite dancing cow

      Mmmmmm... scat machines...

      December 3, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Todd in DC

      there are machines that sell music CDs actually. (I am seriously assuming you are referring to music)

      December 3, 2012 at 11:49 am |
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

        Nope. Da poo-poo.

        December 3, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  15. snowdogg

    "Overnight, vending machine food has become the newest luxury status symbol in America."

    What a load of BULL !

    December 3, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  16. DC

    For 75 cents I would.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  17. HarleyGirl

    I have always had a thing about vending machines. You just don't know how long that item has been in that machine before you decided to buy it. These new trendy machines would be a definite no for me, too. Sounds like a haven for food poisoning. No thanks!

    December 3, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • kulbhushan

      Absolutely true !!

      December 4, 2012 at 4:32 am |
  18. Marc

    Live lobster from a vending machine sounds like a REALLY bad idea. Unless they're checking the vending machine multiple times a day, all it takes is one dead one to contaminate the entire tank and make someone sick.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  19. Chris

    If it costs more than $1, I won't be buying it out of a vending machine.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  20. Sagebrush Shorty

    Personally I don't eat anything from a vending machine,but that's just me.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  21. David

    Would not eat it anyway.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • snowdogg

      Fish eggs? Ugh!

      December 3, 2012 at 11:29 am |
      • Jerv

        Agreed. Skipping the fish eggs and going with the National Apple Pie day. Booo-raaah!

        December 3, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Cheech N. Chong

      Dave's not here.

      December 4, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
| Part of

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,974 other followers