|Flickr: mquest foto|
The most recent update on this story: Italian chefs are highly insulted by the machine. Reuters reports that Pino Morelli, the representative for the Association of Italian Pizzerias, calls the new machine "a toy."
"Perhaps it will find a niche overseas," Morelli says, "but Italians are born with pizza: their mothers feed it to them as babies. They understand it."
I'd like to taste a pizza made from one of these machines, although I don't have high hopes -- I still think vending machine coffee is terrible. But the concept of the machine made me think of other weird vending machine ideas. According to an article in the Smithsonian Magazine, the first recorded reference to a vending machine dates back to ancient history: Hero of Alexandria, a mathematician who lived 10-70 A.D., created a machine that used levels to accept a coin and then dispense a squirt of holy water.
I vaguely remember seeing, as a kid, a vending machine that made "fresh" milkshakes -- at least one company manufactured these in the 1960s -- but I can't remember what the milkshakes tasted like. Hopefully better than vending machine coffee.