Japan has cornered the market on wacky vending machines. With a handful of yen and the push of a button, you can obtain a hot cup of soup, a pair of underpants, even a puppy.
In the US, vending machines have been mostly useful for obtaining Slim Jims, corn nuts, and their low-rent, snack-fix brethren—until COVID-19, when a contactless method for obtaining sundries begins to seem like just the ticket. All the better if it is paired with a flashing disco ball and a groovy soundtrack, like the Pix-O-Matic, a refrigerated vending machine now stationed outside Pix Pâtisserie on E Burnside Street and dispensing a wide selection of the pastry shop’s trademark French-inflected delicacies, from a shiny mason jar of house-made Nutella to cream-filled orange rum cake glossed with mixed berries.
The Pix-O-Matic also hosts a pandemic-era version of pop-ups, with guest chefs and brands taking turns stocking the shelves. We gladly paid $8 for six juicy pork-and-chive dumplings with spicy, mouth-tingling dipping sauce from the chef-owner of the much-missed former Lucky Strike on SE Hawthorne. There are a handful of other whimsical oddities on hand, from a bag of jamon chips to a “Defeat Moscow Mitch 2020” face mask to a wee crocheted succulent plant, because why not? If you miss out, don’t fret: like any good vending machine, it’s restocked on the regular.