Carol Elliott | November 6, 2020
The first vending machine was invented in Egypt two thousand years ago by Heron of Alexandria, according to a new book, Vending Machines: A Social History. It dispensed holy water.
Today, vending machines are more often associated with those tempting snack foods that are the bane of healthy eating — chips, candy, crackers, sodas. There might be a few healthier offerings here and there, but vending fare historically has skewed toward highly processed foods.
A project that paired a Notre Dame MBA team with Canteen, the nation’s largest unattended retail company, could change that. For more than 85 years, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based Canteen has been considered an industry leader in “unattended retail,” providing vending, office coffee, pantry and dining services in workplaces, school systems, health-care facilities and other locations throughout the nation.
With the rising national interest in eating better, Canteen sees an opportunity to support this movement on a broad scale by providing healthier food options through its extensive vending operations. This entails defining a new strategic vision for the company that is decidedly larger than just snacks. In fall 2020, company leadership turned to the University of Notre Dame MBA students for help, presenting their case to the New Product Development course taught by teaching professor Joseph Cherian.
Read more here.