A gas station in West Hollywood (a Mobil on Santa Monica Blvd. if you must know) now has The Burrito Box, the first ever twenty-four hour vending machine that serves nothing but piping hot burritos…and maybe a side of heartburn mixed with sadness. Launched around the start of the new year, this has become big news as it marks not only a new high in food technology but also a new low in food consumption.
With five kinds to choose from (chorizo, potato, bacon, chicken or beef) and three sides to select from (guacamole, sour cream or hot sauce, all at an extra charge), you simple make your decision using the touch screen, slide through your credit or debit card, watch a music video while your burrito is “cooked” and, voila, one minute and thirty seconds later your burrito is dropped in front of you with a loud thump.
What you are given for your three dollars (not including tax or price of condiments) is a hot food substance in tubular form. And by hot, we mean “molten lava, melt your face and fry your brain” hot. Luckily the guacamole, sour cream and hot sauce all come out frozen Tundra cold so by mixing all the ingredients together you can assemble a food product that won’t injure you when consumed.
And what you get from the Burrito Box is a burrito that tastes exactly like it came out of a vending machine. Really, what would you expect from a machine that looks like the less sexy, not as charming stepbrother to a Redbox? You get what you pay for. Congratulations. You have just bought a three-dollar burrito that tastes like a $1.37 burrito. Mangia!
Of course it is not fair to assume that a burrito vending machine is going to pump out a high-end, gourmet burrito that tastes homemade. Even the drunkest or most insane (or both) person will know what the deal is going in. It’s not a question of will or will it not taste good (cause it won’t). It is more a question of – why? Why is a burrito vending machine even needed in this world?
You can get a crappy burrito anywhere, anytime on this earth. Bad burritos are everywhere. They are more prevalent than diabetes and R. Kelly remixes combined. You can get a crappy microwave burrito, a crappy fast food burrito, a crappy food truck burrito–even a crappy Mexican restaurant burrito. Crappy burritos are a dime a dozen (in some cases literally). Why add to the crappy burrito business with a crappy burrito vending machine?
So if we know that the burritos will taste bad from Burrito Box and we know that we can get just as equally bad burritos from anywhere else, then why is a burrito vending machine a thing? If it’s not tastier, easier, cheaper or more convenient than other methods of getting a burrito, why does it exist? Cause it’s fun to stand inside a gas station at 12:57am, watching a Taylor Swift video while you wait for your scalding hot, chorizo burrito served with a side of iced guac? Is that a food experience that needs to be cherished? Particularly in Los Angeles which is a taco town, anyway?
Wait a minute – a taco vending machine! Now that would be something special.