The Beginning of Micro Markets

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The Beginning of Micro Markets

Man looking at vending machines.

Automated food is not a new concept. You’ve likely used a traditional vending machine before, and you probably know they’ve been around for a pretty long time. But did you know that automated food delivery has been around since before 1900 and that stores similar to micro markets have been around since 1902? Here is a quick glimpse at the history of this type of food delivery system and a brief overview of how things have changed.

First Vending Machines

The modern vending machine was first seen in England in the late 1800s. These machines dispensed postcards. Quickly, this technology caught on and a German chocolate manufacturer began using coin-operated vending machines to dispense their products. US vending machines began with a company that manufactured a coin-operated machine to sell chewing gum. It wasn’t long before this automated delivery method picked up and moved on to sell bigger and more complicated food items.

Horn & Hardart

In America, the micro market can trace its lineage back to a restaurant called Horn & Hardart. Following the popularity of European “automat restaurants”, Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart opened several restaurants that used vending machines made by the same chocolate manufacturer mentioned earlier. They were the first Americans to receive these machines. Their first store was opened in Philadelphia in 1902. That was followed by two New York stores in 1912. By 1924, Horn & Hardart had opened several locations that sold pre-packaged food that were favorites in their restaurants. These automats were popular during the Great Depression, offering inexpensive but hardy meal options. As fast-food began to grow in popularity, Horn & Hardart declined and eventually, the last store closed in 1991.

Modern Micro Markets

Vending machines did not go out of style, however. And that has led to the resurgence of automated food delivery with the micro market. Like the Horn & Hardart restaurants, micro markets offer more than just chocolate bars or chewing gum. But they use more sophisticated payment systems that include credit card purchases and rechargeable payment accounts. Micro markets give your employees a chance to have a decent meal on-site. They don’t have to go anywhere for a convenient lunch. And like the Horn and Hardart stores of the early 1900s, the delivery method for these meals is automated.

If you’re interested in a micro market, contact our team today!