Oy vey, my inbox and Facebook page have been flooded with people sharing the news of a burrito vending machine in West Hollywood. People, this is nothing new! I've been trying chimichangas out of vending machines in Southern California for years, and you might as well count the lunch lady at Anaheim High School back in the mid-1990s, too, because all she did was hand us our breakfast burritos wrapped in cellophane. The Burrito Box is NOT a Goldberg-esque machine that makes burritos according to order; it just spits out so-so burritos that were already made somewhere else, burritos I tried at the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim last year.
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Nevertheless, we should all hail this burrito machine because it just further confirms what I've proclaimed for years: There is nothing new under the comida sun, and America is gaga for Mexican food, just as it has been for more than a century. The Burrito Box owners must know this because their unveiling of the product is pure genius.
One must place the Burrito Box in the continuum of Mexican-food technological advances that turned Americans crazy in a previous decade and had the Baylessistas clucking their tongues in disapproval: the frozen margarita machine. Tortillas in a can. Chili in a can. Tamales in a can. Packaged chili. The whole history of Mexican-food technological trends is in my Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, and rather than see this post as a shameless plug for my work (which, of course, it is), consider the Burrito Box through this prism. The media coverage is already there, so expect more of that. Expect more Burrito Boxes to spring up across the country. Expect competitors to arise. Expect a reformation of the burrito box to fight the Burrito Box à la Chipotle. Expect the Burrito Box to fall in popularity--and expect the Burrito Box to be hailed as a retro fave in a couple of decades, once we're all eating Mexican food off silicon chips embedded into our duodenum.
All hail the Burrito Box!