Fresh Food Vending Machines Are Here
The ever-evolving world of automation is gradually changing many aspects of our lives. And food vending is no exception. From pizza vending machines to fresh produce vending machines and more, we look at this fresh vending trend.
Robot-Made Pizza in Rome
It's hard to overstate how popular pizza is in the Eternal City, enjoyed as slices that are chopped by scissors (al taglio), by the round pie (tonda), or as oval-shaped pinsa pies. Making the city an interesting choice as a testing ground for the new Mr. Go's hands-free automatic pizza machine; it mixes the dough, shapes it, drops on different toppings, and cooks the pie up fresh in three minutes with an infrared oven. Watching your pizza get made through panes of glass is a big part of the fun.
An update of Let’s Pizza machines that first rolled out in 2009, Mr. Go's choices are currently bacon, spicy salami, margherita, and four cheese, spanning in price from 4.50 Euros to €6 (around $5.50 to $7 US dollars). While most folks who've tried Mr. Go pies have said that they liked the low price, the culinary reviews have been mixed—of course, we are talking about some of the world's most discerning pizza connoisseurs here.
Kellogg's is in on the Action
True, cereal isn't quite made-from-scratch food. But the Kellogg’s Bowl Bot machine does have a lot of fresh offerings that go into your machine-dispensed bowl of cereal: milk or yogurt as your base, with granola, cocoa nibs, or fresh fruit on top—you've got a selection of 22 ingredients to choose from. Stick with one cereal or go with one of the pre-programmed combos: The Hawaii 5-0 has Frosted Mini-Wheats, triple-berry granola, mango, pineapple, and coconut; About Last Night blends Fruit Loops and Frosted Flakes, topped by banana chips, chocolate drops, and espresso syrup. And Valentine's Day Vibes? That combo is a berrylicious mix of Special K Red Berries cereal with strawberries, blueberries, and cocoa nibs.
While Kellogg's Bowl Bot machines are only available on a few college campuses in the United States right now, our glimpse into the future is clear: we will live in a world with robot-made cereal. And like it!
Chowbotics is Paving the Way
The food-delivery platform DoorDash recently bought the start-up Chowbotics for an undisclosed amount, though the Wall Street Journal reports that Chowbotics was valued at $46 million in 2018. What makes Chowbotics worth that much cash? Sally is one big reason. The robot that makes a fresh custom salad in about a minute has been a big hit; there are over 350 Sally machines around the world and counting, mixing salads with ingredients from vegetables to fresh salmon in compostable bowls.
Sally Isn't the Only Robot Chef
The list of automated machines serving fresh food and on-demand drinks around the world is growing and shows no sign of stopping. Here are a few that are worth looking out for.
The Mini Bakery
The Wilkinson Baking Company bills itself as the "world's first fully automated bakery." And that bold boast might be correct. Watch through a wide glass encasement as these machines mix, form, bake, and cool fresh bread. Currently, there are only a few Mini Bakery machines located at supermarkets in the Pacific Northwest, but you can bet in the future we'll be seeing more vending machines that make fresh bread.
Do you believe that a robot bartender won't be up for a friendly chat? Then you haven't met Cecilia, an interactive bartender that talks, listens, and even has a few good jokes. Plus she can mix your favorite cocktail in about 30 seconds! Using speech recognition and AI tech, this drink-making machine might make you rethink the need for traditional human barkeeps.
Think there's nothing new about getting coffee from a vending machine? Then you probably haven't tried ordering from the Truebird Micro-Cafe. Serving automated java around New York City, Truebird is more akin to a robot barista, creating custom-made coffee drinks from a touchscreen menu, grinding beans on-demand with a choice of different kinds of fresh milk.
Will fresh food vending machines ever top human chefs? The future is uncertain. But we do know that right now robots are busy making meals inside fresh food vending machines all the world over.
Written by William McCleary for Knockaround.