Don’t Write Off Pizza Vending Machines Just Yet

The pros, cons, and potential of robotic pizza vending machines worldwide.

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robotic pizza machine
Photo: REPORT (Shutterstock)

I like to think there’s a time and place for every kind of pizza (or, put another way, there’s no wrong time for pizza). And one new style of pizza we keep hearing about is vending machine pizza. You know, the kind where the machine takes raw ingredients, assembles them, then bakes off a pie before boxing it up and sending it through a slot toward your eager hands. Pizza vending machines quietly continue to be installed in new locations around the globe, and we’re starting to believe these things might occupy a useful niche in the wide world of pizza.

Pizza vending machines till take some getting used to

Wider adoption of these machines will probably take some time, as there isn’t exactly high demand for vending machine pizza all across the world at the moment. Take for example, the hubbub around a Mr. Go pizza vending machine that debuted in Rome a few years back. Citizens derided the end product for its subpar quality, and for the fact that its crust wasn’t quite right (it’s supposedly quite thin). Why someone thought Rome was a good pilot location for one of these things is a mystery to me, considering that Rome is, you know, in Italy.


Yet while Rome might not exactly be the best market for robot-assembled pizzas, that leaves us with the question: Where would a pizza vending machine really succeed?

The best locations for pizza vending machines

There are some places around the country and the world—too many—where a hot meal is damn near impossible to get a hold of. Prepackaged cold sandwiches from a vending machine are one thing, but purchasing a hot bite at a hospital, college dorm, or company cafeteria could be a game changer. Airports, sports stadiums, and mall food courts are also great potential sites for these on-the-go pizzas.


Sometimes we just want access to hot, cooked food. That’s it. And the universal appeal of pizza ensures that someone, somewhere, will want or need it. If the pizza is priced affordably enough, opportunities would present themselves virtually anywhere, especially in locations where other options aren’t available 24/7.

Speaking of cost, there’s no excuse for the pizza not to be priced well. Pizza ingredient costs usually comprise between 20-25% of a pizza’s final price, and in the case of robotic pizzas, the labor comes from a machine (one that doesn’t make minimum wage). They might never be as cheap as fast food, but vending machine pies should probably cost at least slightly less than an equivalent pizza from a fast food chain restaurant.

The quality has to be good

Here’s the thing: I realize that a pizza vending machine is mostly about its convenience, but there’s no reason the quality can’t be good. If a business is going to stock its vending machine with cardboard and ketchup, that’s a surefire way to cause people to avoid it (word of mouth moves quickly). But if the pizza’s at the very least decent and reliable, then there’s no reason why it can’t be a now-and-then option for someone grabbing lunch on the go.

Pizza Vending Machine in Japan

Japan’s known for its vending machines, and the video above shows one assembling a pizza that looks, dare I say, half decent. The cheese is fully melted, the crust is charred, and the slices look substantial. For roughly $7.50, that’s not a bad deal.


Sure, there’s admittedly a soullessness to it all. Human interaction when ordering your food does have a psychological appeal to it, but fast food pizza chains have already minimized the ways in which we interact with employees. Little Caesars has a Pizza Portal device where you punch in a code and grab your pizza from a locked warming cabinet. Domino’s Carside Delivery service brings pizza right to your car when you pick it up, with barely any conversation needed beyond “Thanks.”

I’m not arguing that a pizza vending machine would ever replace the craft product served by a good old fashioned pizzeria. That would be unreasonable. But like I said, there’s a time and place for all pizza. The stuff spit out by vending machines  is just one more way to grab everyone’s favorite food, especially when we need it most. Don’t be surprised if you see a machine pop up near you, and sooner than you think.