Well, L.A. has gotten one step closer to becoming a caricature of itself: an artisanal burrito vending machine has been fully operational at a West Hollywood gas station for nigh upon two weeks now.
The Burrito Box at the Mobil station at 8380 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood offers six varieties of burrito, allegedly featuring antibiotic- and hormone-free ingredients including free-range chicken and uncured bacon. It remains to be seen if there’s a Venn Diagram featuring overlapping “People Who Eat at Gas Stations” and “People Concerned With the Religious Freedom of Poultry” circles. And if you weren’t totally sure that we’re living in one of those tech-obsessed dystopian literary futures Dave Eggers and Gary Shteyngart* have been going on about lately, the machine’s video display discloses all your burrito’s nutritional information before playing a music video or video ad while you wait 60 seconds for your potato-egg-and-cheese-with-side-of-Tabasco.
Machine Burritos are available at a pretty reasonable $3 price point, with sides of sour cream, hot sauce, and guac ranging from 50 to 75 cents. A second Burrito Box is slated to go live in Century City (10389 Santa Monica Blvd. in the new 76 station) on January 18. Whether or not the Burrito Box will eventually be rendered obsolete by a far more convenient online streaming Burrito service with a low monthly fee isn’t yet clear.
*Eggers waxes poetic about the insidious infringement of technology on our lives in his latest, The Circle. Shteyngart basically predicted this word-for-word in 2010’s pretty brilliant Super Sad True Love Story.