Cupcake ATM: Treats at Your Fingertips

New York City’s new cupcake ATM takes us back to the automat dispensaries of yesteryear.

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Anadolu Agency/Getty

To combat the oh-so-serious (read: not-so-serious) problem posed by limited access to cupcakes in New York City, the geniuses at Sprinkles bakeshop created a 24-hour cupcake ATM to make sure those with a sweet tooth can get their fix at any hour of the day or night. See how it works, followed by a look back at previous automat food dispensaries that broke the (cupcake) mold.

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The Cupcake ATM opened today and, despite some technical difficulties, it attracted lines of people eager to be a part of dessert history.

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This is what an ATM cupcake looks like. But what does it taste like? That is the real question. 

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Model Cindy Heller purchases a snack from an automat vending machine in 1945.

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A well-dressed man and woman peruse the pre-made sandwich selection at the Grand Central Station automat in 1948. 

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A red neon sign on New York's Third Avenue circa 1955 advertises an automat, a bygone trend in automatic dining. 


Founded in 1888, the Philadelphia and New York restaurant chain Horn & Hardat became known for its coffee and coin-operated Automat. Here, a Horn & Hardart official serves one of the last slices of pie through a window at the nation's first automat restaurant in Philadelphia. The restaurant closed in December 1968, blaming inefficiency and slowness. 


A customer is seen buying a cup of H&H's famous joe at the chain's last surviving automat in midtown Manhattan in 1987.