Most people are familiar with vending machines as vessels for soda or snacks. Sometimes they can dispense books, shoelaces, or fresh eggs. Now, one barbecue restaurant in Kansas City, Kansas, is offering fresh smoked meats via automatic dispenser.
Jones Bar-B-Q has a modified vending machine located in front of their storefront that features a seven-course assortment. Diners can choose from chicken wings, beef, ham, turkey, rib tips, or combo sandwiches, or their famous burnt ends sandwich. The meals range in price from $4 to $7.50 and come with a side. (The “burnt ends” are charred bits of brisket, a delicacy popular in the region.)
Owners and sisters Deborah “Little” Jones and Mary “Shorty” Jones Mosley installed the machine so customers could have evening meal options, as Jones Bar-B-Q is typically open—even during off-pandemic hours—between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The refrigerated unit was modified to house their plastic clamshell food containers and is stocked in the morning, when the meats are fresh off the smoker.
Despite the timing, Jones Bar-B-Q was actually working on the vending machine prior to the current public health situation. A nearby bar often meant that prospective customers would wander over to the restaurant looking for something to eat after closing time. The machine seems to solve both the problem of contactless ordering and servicing the inebriated.
The world’s first vending machine is believed to date back to the 1st century CE, when Hero of Alexandria created a method for dropping a coin into a box that triggered a lever to dispense holy water. For fans of Jones Bar-B-Q, the newest incarnation may be a comparable religious experience.
[h/t Atlas Obscura]