We tested Kettering's new pizza vending machine - and it was rank
It's a first for the town centre
There's many things that we are technologically-advanced at, but vending machines is not one of them.
People in Japan can buy virtually anything from machines on the street including batteries, sushi, umbrellas and loo roll.
In the UK, vending machines are usually reserved for bus stations and leisure centres, offering the same selection of Powerade bottles, Snickers bars and bags of Doritos.
So when I heard that a new pizza vending machine had opened in Kettering' s Newlands Shopping Centre, the novelty factor meant I had to review it.
Go to any pizzeria and you'll wait 15 minutes or so for a freshly-baked treat. The iPizza machine, found near Tapri cafe in the centre, promises you'll get a 7in stonebaked pizza with quality ingredients in under three minutes.
Options include meaty, pepperoni, vegetarian, three cheese and a vegan offering, with customers able to choose whether they want it hot or frozen to take home.
I popped out to try it earlier this week and, mindful of my vegetarian colleague who would probably want a taste, went for the three cheese option at £4.95. The process was pretty simple. Pick your choice, tap your card on the reader and then watch the screen count down until your food is ready.
It all seemed so promising - until the hot pizza dropped into the slot for me to take away.
We don't like giving bad reviews but reader, let me tell you this: it was the single worst thing I have ever eaten. It was laughably bad.
Food rarely looks like the picture promoted in advertisements, but this was on another level. This was not a pizza with a lovely crust and oozy melted cheese, like the machine made out.
It looked like somebody had cut a piece of raw pastry, scooped up some chunder off the street and put a few dots of shaving cream on the top. In hindsight, that might have been the tastier option.
Let's start with the dough. It had the mindblowing texture of somehow being both soggy and crispy, like playdough in one corner and solid wood in the other. The sauce, or what tiny amount of it there was, was average at best.
And the cheese. The cheese! The ink on the ingredients list on the pizza box was smudged so I couldn't tell what the three cheeses were. That was probably a good thing, because what came out would have been an insult to them. Most of it was rock hard, having presumably been nuked in a microwave inside the machine.
Was I expecting a hand-stretched base with a leopard crust and the finest ingredients to come out of a vending machine? Of course I wasn't. But I was expecting it to better than this.
At Dominos you can get a 7in cheese and tomato pizza for £6.99. At Franks in Havelock Street you can get a real Italian pizza for just a couple of quid more. For £4.95 this vending machine produced a pizza I'd be embarrassed to serve at a school food technology lesson.
If it came out on a plate in a restaurant I'd send it back.
It's a shame technology hasn't advanced as far as letting me ask the vending machine for a refund.