Heated Vending Machines Offering Instant Snacks


Automats are like self-service vending machines for hot food. They use rows of food lockers, sometimes heated, to store prepared food for customers to collect.

A Snack It store in Amsterdam.

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Individual food lockers sit on top of each other and are lined up in rows, and are topped up throughout the day as products are sold.

A FEBO store in Amsterdam

A FEBO store in Amsterdam.

Grace Dean/Insider


At the automats I saw in Amsterdam, you could pay by either cash or card.

A FEBO store in Amsterdam

A FEBO store in Amsterdam.

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Some even had coin dispensers that you could use with notes, cards, and payment apps.

A Snack It store in Amsterdam

A coin dispenser at a Snack It store in Amsterdam.

Grace Dean/Insider


Some of the stores I went to were pick-up only, but most had tables for customers to eat at too.

A Snack It store in Amsterdam

Seating at a Snack It store in Amsterdam.

Grace Dean/Insider


Most of them shut in the late evening, but some are open until 3am on weeknights and 4am on Friday and Saturday nights.

A Snack It store in Amsterdam

The exterior of a Snack It store in Amsterdam.

Grace Dean/Insider


They mainly sell fried fast food, like croquettes, frikandellen, and bitterballen, as well as burgers.

A Snack It store in Amsterdam

Food on sale at a Snack It store in Amsterdam.

Grace Dean/Insider


Items on its menu included pies, sandwiches, salads, stews, and soup. The chain was the first to bring fresh-drip brewed coffee to Philadelphia and New York, and each batch was poured away if it hadn’t sold within 20 minutes of being brewed. Horn & Hardart sold 90 million cups of coffee annually in the 1950s, according to the Smithsonian Magazine, and photos of its menu from 1958 show that it sold cigars and cigarettes, too.

Miriam Cordova has her coffee but there is nothing to eat in the Automat machines at Horn & Hardart's Restaurant at 42nd Street and Third Ave., early Nov. 10 1965. Because of the blackout which struck the city and most of the northeast, crowds jammed the restaurants and ate up almost everything in sight.

A Horn & Hardart’s restaurant in New York in November 1965.

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Sources: The Smithsonian Magazine, New York Public Library



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