Ladies and gentlemen, the future is here. All of those crying and moaning about the problems we’ll face tomorrow can kindly move to the back of the room. Here, I’ll give you a second to cease your whining about pollution, war, the recession, overpopulation, climate change, and Bristol Palin’s upcoming memoir. Screw that noise! Because mine eyes hath basked in the warming glow of this Brave New World, and the warming glow emanates from a vending machine that just baked me a fresh pizza, in three minutes.
Who the hell wants a flying car, anyway?
The vending machine, charmingly called Let’s Pizza!, doesn’t just microwave a pizza like some pimply 7-Eleven grunt resenting his Friday night shift. It mixes flour and water, kneads the dough, rolls it flat, layers on tomato sauce, cheese, and your choice of toppings, bakes at super-high temperatures, then rolls it onto a paper plate. Cutlery and a little bag of oregano are included. The price? Around $4.50, depending on toppings.
Surprisingly, the pizza vending machine was not invented in America, a country that knows how much time is of the essence regarding hastily-prepared convenience food of dubious content, especially when we’re late for our Pilates classes. No, the machine was invented in the birthplace of pizza itself. Aw hell no. It’s only through divine faith that Italian pizza chefs (real ones, some with mustaches and goofy hats) haven’t set the entire country on fire as a result. Maybe if McDonald’s had introduced it. In fact, we should be praising our Lord and Savior every day that they haven’t yet created such a machine to fire out hamburgers, Good Burger style.
But the pizza machine does all of this, without spitting in your food, within a bright red box the size of one-and-a-half Ford Econolines. There are small windows that help you mark the progress of your pizza, from left to right: the lever goes down, pouring flour into the chute; the mixer starts to whirr with a plastic-sounding buzz like a wind-up train, and the mixture becomes more substantial as water is added. And then, with a vacuum pop, foom! the arm raises and the dough is sent through to be kneaded. This takes all of 14 seconds. Then the dough disappears behind the center of the machine, deep into its innards, and witchcraft happens. Eventually it slides onto a window on the right, where—and this is the best part, trust me—you can watch it spin while it’s being baked! Watch the cheese bubble and pop like some strange alien mutation in one minute and 20 seconds. This is The Miracle of Life for pizza fetishists.
So how does it taste? Even for 3-minute vending machine fare, the pizza could be better. The dough is thin-crust style, presumably given both the limitations of the machine and the inherent authenticity of regular Italian pizza. It was dry and spongy, and there wasn’t much sauce to speak of to complement it. But the cheese was the biggest problem: it had a distinct chemical taste and the texture of biting into a handful of packing peanuts liberally doused with Velveeta. Personally, I’m holding out for the stuffed-crust version, but only if they upgrade the cheese to something that doesn’t taste like the breathed-in contents of your mouth after walking into a sudden cloud of disinfectant.
You know what, though? The cheese will taste better when you’re drunk. That could be a new personal life motto. But it’s also the beauty of the pizza vending machine—piping hot food, 24 hours a day, without being yelled at by kebab shop employees or starting a fight with some gangbangers in a diner parking lot. It’s as easy as…well, getting a Diet Coke from any old vending machine. And for insomniacs, alcoholics and raging partygoers, the pizza vending machine—nay, the very idea of instant food at any hour—couldn’t be any better if the ghost of Farah Fawcett descended upon a golden staircase at 4 in the morning with a giant bag of Doritos. Why else are so many machines installed at university dorms?
And you know what? It gives me hope for the future. Attention, inebriated citizens of Earth, stardate twenty-oh-one: Let’s Pizza!