TAGS: Museum of Food and Drink, bulk vending, coin machine, coin-op, gumball machine, taste sampling, taste pellet dispenser, Rich Shih, OurCookQuest, MOFAD
BROOKLYN, NY -- When they needed a way to dispense taste samples, the curators at the Museum of Food and Drink turned to bulk vending. A bank of retrofitted venders dispense flavored pellets that allow patrons to sample such tastes as MSG, salt, citric, apple spice and sweet at the museum's tasting stations.
The concept, keeping with the museum's theme of a "sensory safari" of taste and smell, was the brainchild of exhibit engineer Rich Shih of OurCookQuest. "[The museum] had investigated other methods, but needed something inexpensive and mass produced, and something that could be used for a wide variety of flavors," Shih said. "We had done some research and found that gumball machines are easiest to purchase for base cost, easiest to modify and easiest for visitors to operate."
Modifications involved a small adjustment to the coin mechanism to enable free vends, and the addition of a wheel retrofit to vend a single taste pellet per vend. Wooden boxes and special square globes were fabricated for each of the 25 bulk vending heads to fit the museum's décor.
At present time, MOFAD is using about half of the original reconfigured machines in its display, but plans call for adding units and flavors in the future.
MOFAD, located in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to concepts behind food and drink. The museum also offers cooking classes. It is open Wednesday through Sunday.