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.
In Japan they say that the customer is God and even a machine is expected to pay its respects.
It’s a saying that supports the idea that Japan is the land of the vending machine with perhaps more machines per person than anywhere else in the world. In Japan’s cities they can be seen on most street corners dispensing sodas and hot coffee, but also more far-out items like ice cream, french fries, umbrellas and clothes.
They’ve even made it to the top of Mount Fuji, providing hungry hikers with hot, steamy instant noodles at the summit.
The country even has its own association of vending machine manufactures, the JVMA, which notes that the number of automatic dispensers in Japan, including ticket machines, amounts to over 5 million. That's a human-to-machine ratio of around 24 to one.
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I like to think of myself as a pretty rational person. In the 14 years I've lived in New York City, I've never gotten in a shoving match on the subway, punched a cab hood, or shrieked aloud in a 20-minute Whole Foods checkout line. I patiently wait my turn at crowded bars, resist the urge to body-check tourists who stop dead in the middle of busy sidewalks to snap group pictures (really – please don't do that!), and say no...no...that's okay when the neighbors' double-wide stroller runs over my toes - again.
So why do malfunctioning vending machines turn me into a total nutjob?