Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Good News, Thy Name is Cupcake...

Just when you thought there was never good to be heard again in the land... 
I'm what????

The world seems to be going to hell...not to mention, Snooki is rumored to be with child, thereby expanding her gene pool, thereby...oh, never mind.

In fact, the news has been so bad lately that it's all I can do not to fill my bathtub with Bushmills and soak in it all day. But I just read something that made me smile.

I hope it will have the same effect on you: as of this month, you will be able to get a fresh, delicious cupcake from an ATM machine.

You heard me: Cupcake ATMs. Why, yes, it would be a good name for a rock band but it's actually real!

Pioneered by Sprinkles, an expanding chain of trend-setting bakeries, cupcakes will soon be available to all (okay, not all...you'll need to have a credit or debit card and at least $4 available or you will not be brushing red velvet crumbs off your bib at 3 a.m.) at any time of day or night.
A prototype of
the actual cupcake ATM.

The first Cupcake ATM will be in the flagship Sprinkles bakery in Beverly Hills but soon will be available at all Sprinkles locations nationwide and -- hold hands for strength, America--eventually at locations separate from the bakeries. At the gas station, by the bank, next to the laundromat...

Rumor has it that the machines will not be actually automated. There will be a person (I volunteer) sitting in the machine who will actually place it in the dispenser which is kind of disappointing but it will still appear to be something out of the Jetsons and that will have to be enough.
Those who pay attention to my schizophrenic philosophies may note that my delight in the automated dispensation of a cupcake stands in direct contrast to my dismay at the lack of human interaction in today's technologized world but, what can I tell you? "Susan Says..." is full of inexplicable contradictions. Especially where buttercream is involved.

There's just something Pavlovian about putting one's money into a little slot and getting something nice to eat or drink that I have always enjoyed. I'm the person who will buy that awful brown crayon-colored coffee from a vending machine because it's fun to press the buttons for cream and sugar. Yippee!

I was obsessed by Horn &Hardart's automats as a kid. I bet most of you have no idea what that is...or, sadly, was.
Back in the day
Those unlucky to be young enough to have their whole lives before them and not remember the "automat" never had the thrill of putting nickels into a slot, opening a little glass door and extracting a piece of lemon meringue pie or a crock of piping hot macaroni and cheese.

Can you imagine--magic, wonder, food!

The automat, one of about a half dozen in New York City, on Broadway seemed immense to this little girl. Arriving gripping the hands of both my mother and Grandma, we'd slide dollar bills across a smooth, buffed metal counter to an attendant who would then convert them into the correct number of nickels, depositing them into a trough on our side. We'd scoop out the coins, pick a table, throw our coats over our chairs and the fun began.
Another view

You could get a small salad, meat loaf, a variety of sandwiches, their famous beans or creamed spinach and a huge variety of desserts by inserting the necessary number of coins, opening the glass doors and reaching in to remove your treat.

Then, someone would refill the window with another of the same thing--fresh and ready for the next hungry diner.

It was here, during the depression, that people added ketchup to hot water for tomato soup or just sat, for as long as allowed, over a single cup of coffee to stay out of the cold.

To just walk into an "automat," as they were called, was a thrill for kids of all ages. I was so impressed that I can still remember the crockery and the whoosh-snap of the little door opening. I was allowed, with my chubby hand, to remove the plate myself.

The concept was quite radical for it's day --they were begun in 1902 and, at their peak of popularity in the 1950's, there were 180 in the United States.

So, I will simply have to relive the excitement by paying $4 for a cupcake to come out of a compartment in a wall when Sprinkles comes to town. 

It will cost a lot of nickels but I am looking forward to it!

Take three minutes, with your volume on, to enjoy this absolutely fabulous video which will give you a true idea of the "automat" experience...


  1. OMG!! MY Dad took my sister and I to Horn and Hardart's in NYC back in the 60's!!! It was so much fun to put money in and open the window!!! Those were the days!!!

  2. My mom worked at one of those automats. I loved it! My favorite treat was a strawberry shortcake dessert. I would save my allowance to buy one when my mom would take me to work with her on school holidays.

  3. I know what you mean – I had no idea what vending machines were until we moved to the States. Believe it or not, vending machines are not a thing in Lithuania. Imagine my joy and surprise when, as a 12-year-old, I used one for the first time!

  4. They still have Automats in Amsterdam! I had never seen one before- but I loved it when I went! Who knew they had these in NYC? Are there any left there?

  5. Janis, I sahre your happy memories of Horn and Hardart. Until I did a little research, I didn't even think about them being the names of actual people. Such innocent fun! Thanks for your comment!

  6. Wow, Michelle. so you have a very personal history with the automat. Strawberry shortcake, eh? Mine was the lemon meringue...yum!Thanks for stopping by todat!

  7. Hi, Jessie!! I can't wait either...cupcakes, little doors opening ---bliss! I am so happy to hear from you..XXOO!! to you and Jorge.

  8. Miss Stajebuns,no vending machines in Lithuania? We'll have to make up for it now...we'll get everything possible from a machine and then go into a phot booth and take oictures of ourselves! XXXOOO

  9. No, Anon...none left in NYC. That video on the botton shows an attempt in the late eighties to revive them but it didn't work. We'll just have to visit Amsterdam! Thanks for reading today!

  10. Snooki pregnant. God help that baby...and us.

  11. Great nostalgia! Thanks!

  12. I totally agree,Sharona...be very afraid.

  13. My pleasure, Jillian...thank YOU for reading my blog.

  14. I hadn't thought of an automat since my boobs were still perky. It's been decades.

    What fun! Can I get a cupcake for my place? Then you could officially change my name to Ms. Jabba the Hutt.

  15. Ahhhh, me. That's a great idea, Michele. Let's install ATMs in our homes!