When you take a quick glance at some of the factoids on Pizza.com, it's pretty clear Americans love to eat pizza. Lots of it. The question is, will we love it if comes out of a vending machine, even if it's freshly cooked in said machine, instead of being frozen? That's the chance the folks at Let's Pizza are counting on.
According to a report on PizzaMarketplace.com (the fact that such a site exists pleases me to no end), the Netherlands-based A1 Concepts is looking to conquer U.S. shores after a successful stint in the British Isles and other European countries. In fact, these machines have been available abroad since 2009. But now, it's America's turn to join in the pizza-from-a-vending-machine fun:
"The machine's presence has been growing throughout Europe since its launch about three years ago and A1 Concepts is now planning on opening a U.S. headquarters in the Atlanta area in the third quarter. Machine distribution is expected to follow at a brisk pace, with national companies already expressing interest in installation."
I'm actually kind of surprised a company like Coinstar, makers of the Redbox success story, didn't just clone one of their own and rebrand it with something like "Pizza on the Go," while placing next to their Redbox kiosks all over the country. Missed opportunities aside, the Let's Pizza kiosks offer 10-inch pizzas that are baked--not thawed and heated up--in under three minutes. The article from PizzaMarketplace has some details about the baking process straight from Ronald Rammers, the CEO of A1 Concepts:
"The machine contains a specially developed bag of flour and a bag of mineral water. Every time you order a pizza, the machine will start making the dough, then shape it into a crust, and top it with organic tomato sauce. Next, one of the toppings is placed on top and the pizza is ready for the oven."
The pizza is cooked quickly thanks to the infra-red ovens contained within the Let's Pizza kiosks. There's a video of the contraption in action:
No word as to whether or not the attractive assistant comes with the kiosks, but doubts remain high. The interview also reveals these culinary delights will have a suggested retail price of $5.95, but Rammers does say:
"...it is possible to charge different prices at special locations. A large theme park in Florida wants the pizza machines in their location. This way, they can offer the same quality of pizzas all day and they will likely charge more."
As for the quality of the pizzas themselves, there's something of an unknown. When you Google "Let's Pizza Review" a lot of results are ratings for the iPhone app that lets users virtually make their own pizza, which doesn't help these proceedings at all. However, considering the price and the United States' addiction to the "I want it now" mentality, there's a really good chance the Let's Pizza vending machines could be as popular as Redbox, especially if they figure that whole "effective placement" strategy out. College dormitories seems like an obvious choice, as do airports and other travel hubs.