Pizza is not a difficult food to find. There are tons of places that will deliver a hot pie to your door in less than 30 minutes, what seems like hundreds of different brands in the freezer case of the supermarket, and too many pizzerias – good and bad – to count. Most people would say that the best pizza is one made from fresh dough and baked in a super-hot stone oven. But what about a pizza made with fresh dough that is baked in a vending machine?
Researchers at the University of Bologna in Italy, in conjunction with Unilever, have developed a pizza vending machine that, for a few Euros, will bake a fresh pizza in under three minutes. The machine includes technology to mix ingredients and roll out the dough, spread sauce and toppings, and cook the pizza itself; each one is essentially made to order. The pizza is baked using “infra-red rays” as opposed to a traditional oven (which might be something of a fire hazard in a vending machine), but there are windows on the machine so you can watch the process from start to finish, much as you would in a “real” pizzeria. A video demonstrating how it works is available online.
Unilever is planning to launch the machine in Italy in a few weeks, and hopes for a launch overseas in the near future. While the pizza probably won’t compare to a hand-tossed, artisan-made pie, I can think of a few frozen brands that it will definitely be better than. And if any of the US launches are near college towns, this pizza vending machine just might have a real future.