It’s midnight and you need a steak. What do you do?
If you live near Stone Ridge or Accord, New York, you just head to the nearest Applestone Meat Co. 24-hour butcher shop. You won’t find a bleary-eyed staff of overnight shifters working though. A row of vending machines, organized by type of meat—beef, pork, lamb, sausages, and ground meat—stand ready, stocked with steaks, chops, and burgers-to-be.
The idea was more automat than pizza robot-inspired, founder Josh Applestone told Bloomberg. “I remembered Horn & Hardart [the ’50s automated luncheonette, whose last New York outpost closed in 1991]. There were very few people providing nonstop food. I put two and two together,” he said.
Applestone (who, it should be noted, is a friend) envisioned the system as way to reach more customers, and make the shopping process more seamless. It’s more for busy families, less about the ability to get grass-fed burgers in the middle of the night—though that would be an excellent use of them, as well.
“We’re not in the 1950s anymore, where everyone works 9 to 5 and eats at the same time every night,” he said. “Life is chaotic. At best,” he told Esquire. That said, anyone who wants a smile with their ribeye can purchase meat from a customer service window at the Stone Ridge store from 11am to 6pm daily. Customer service, it turns out, isn’t totally dead.
Vending machine’s like Applestone’s aren’t just for the pre-made sandwiches and pie slices of the automat era, or for Snickers bars and bags of Doritos. The infamous Sprinkles Cupcake ATM nearly broke the internet when it launched in 2012. Vending machines are a national obsession in Japan, where they sell pretty much everything imaginable, and ramen dispensers popped up in San Francisco earlier this year. And the French have oyster vending machines. D’accord.