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fancy things

Forget Cheetos: New vending machines dole out caviar and cupcakes

These aren't your grandmother's vending machines. High-tech kiosks are popping up around the country in shopping malls, gas stations, and everywhere else in between, dispensing $1,000 tins of caviar, customized burritos, and dog cupcakes.

While European and Asian vending machines have long served up all sorts of interesting items (in Japan, you can purchase lettuce that has grown under artificial lighting), U.S. machines have basically just been junk food repositories. That's all changing now: Sprinkles Cupcakes is putting "Cupcake ATMs" in all 16 of their bakeries, each machine holding up to 760 cupcakes (including treats just for dogs), and the Burritobox (now only in the L.A. area) heats up customized burritos at 195 degrees Fahrenheit. "The goal is to do what they do in fast food restaurants inside a machine," creator Denis Koci told the Los Angeles Times.

This is just the beginning: Koci is working on Pizzaboxes, which will heat pizzas up to 800 degrees, and San Francisco–based Momentum Machines is developing a kiosk that will be able to cook custom burgers. The goal for all the companies is to get into more locations, like schools, though Kelly Stern of Beverly Hills Caviar is focusing on high-end places. In 2010, she closed her caviar shop, saying it was too much of a hassle to deal with employees. She went the self-service way, and now has three "automated boutiques" in malls around the Los Angeles area. "If we can minimize the humans in our company, then we prefer that," Stern told the Times. "When you have physical employees, you don't have a life. Ask any restaurant or supermarket business."