There's An 'ATM' That Dispenses Fresh Salmon Instead Of Cold Hard Cash

Salmon lovers, take note: there is a place in the world where you don't have to go to the grocery store to get a nice fillet of Nordic salmon. This isn't a dream world, either, and — perhaps most surprisingly — it's not even in the country where the salmon comes from. It's in Singapore. The incredible city-state is home to "ATMs" (aka vending machines) that sell raw salmon.

Norwegian Salmon ATMs first cropped up in the East Asian country in early 2019, and they're pretty much what you'd expect from their name: metal boxes that dispense salmon when you put in your money (not cash, though) and take your pick. Several options exist, from a 200-gram salmon fillet, a serving of smoked salmon, or even salmon sashimi (which includes five pieces, a fork, and soy sauce).

But how can you get fish that's actually fresh from a vending machine? The metal box maintains a constant temperature of -4 degrees Fahrenheit, which means that the fish can stay fresh for up to two years — but the usually brisk pace of vending machine sales means that the salmon is usually long gone before that, especially with the product's competitive pricing: a salmon fillet costs 3.90 — less than $3 in American money. The company first opened in Singapore's Wisteria shopping mall, but since then, has expanded across the island. As strange as a salmon-vending machine sounds, it's not as surprising in the Singaporean context. 

Hot, cold, and in between options abound in Singapore

Singapore is known for its love of convenience, and vending machine culture thrives in the city. You can find everything from kids' toys to sex toys to actual vehicles — Singapore supports an impressive range of vending machine options, including quite an assortment of food choices. While raw fish is still an outlier, it's not exceptional. Singapore also boasts Wagyu beef-dispensing machines.

One of the unusual things about Singaporean vending machines is the level of the process involved. While most US machines simply move a product from one place to another, many Singaporean vending machines do something active to transform their product before releasing it to the consumer. In addition to a number of machines that keep things cold (like ice cream vending machines), there are others that heat their items. One brand of machine called Hot Bake provides warm sandwiches to people in a hurry who are still hoping for a hot meal (as opposed to Subway's vending machines selling cold sandwiches). Vending machines even provide fresh popcorn and hot pizza (like one called ATM pizza), and some of the most ubiquitous Singaporean machines offer hot meals (which look much like what you'd get on an airplane) and freshly squeezed juice. In short, Singapore has taken convenience food to a whole other level.  

It's a brave new world out there, but it's comforting to know how many machines are doing the work to keep the population fed and happy.