Kellogg's Is Bringing Customizable Cereal Vending Machines To College Campuses

On May 20, 2021, Kellogg's and Chowbotics, a robotics company owned by DoorDash that creates food service machines, announced the results of their collaboration: cereal dispensing robots. In their press release for the machine, the partners explain that students at Florida State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison can receive prepared meals as the Kellogg's Bowl Bot combines 22 ingredients. "The Kellogg's Bowl Bot provides students a convenient, quick way to customize the Kellogg's cereals they know and love for a fresh meal or snack anytime," Penn Daniel, General Manager of Chowbotics by DoorDash, gushed. Depending on the order, the vending machine can charge students a range from $2.99 to $6.50.

A reader for Gizmodo, however, noted that marketing $3 cereal bowls to college students may not be the best move. While some may have the money or lack of sense to routinely splurge on the snack, many more are more likely to redirect their money to a cheaper bowl of cereal. Not to be daunted by such economics, though, the two companies created special student dishes such as About Last Night, which contains Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, Krave Chocolate, chocolate drops, banana chips, and espresso syrup; and Valentine's Day Vibes which features Special K Red Berries Cereal, cocoa nibs, blueberries, strawberries, and whole milk. Presumably we'll hear if the Bowl Bot proves successful.

Our self-serve future?

Before their acquisition by DoorDash, Chewbotics had made some waves with Sally the Robot, which was essentially the same thing as the Kellogg's Bowl Bot but with salads, not cereal. The description given by The Robot Report explains how the machine offers self-served meal combinations of a possible 22 ingredients.

In both cases, though, the most interesting technology is not the mechanical assemblage of the ingredients, but their storage. All the ingredients are kept in an air-tight container, ensuring freshness. If the machine can ensure this freshness while also keeping ingredients loose enough to pick and place within a self-serve bowl, then Chowbotics by DoorDash could have made a breakthrough in self-serve technology. Taken in context of the pandemic, more machines like the ones made by Chewbotics by DoorDash could become a staple of people's diets. No wonder DoorDash, which has thrived in the current atmosphere, has taken such an interest in this industry.