Because we inhabit a social-media–driven dystopia where value is affixed to likes, follows and “personal brand,” it was only a matter of time before the backbone of this hellscape became monetary currency. Anyway, this is all to say that now there’s a vending machine that will give you free things in exchange for a post to your Instagram account.
Dubbed the Dream Machine, this FOODBEAST and Nissin collab is doling out Cup Noodles, gift cards, ramen merch, PS4 and Xbox video games and other prizes throughout the month in both Torrance (at the Del Amo Fashion Center) and Las Vegas. The food website and instant-ramen goliath are hoping you’ll give them brand exposure for noodles, and while it’s an obvious marketing grab, what wouldn’t we do for free noodles?
The technology behind the stunt is pretty impressive. Once you unroll your eyes to the back of your head, you’ll see a refurbished 1970s vending machine plastered with retro-inspired, 8-bit graphics and one large plastic button. You push this button to generate a unique hashtag from the the machine’s internet-connected Raspberry Pi mini computer, which instantly searches Instagram to verify that you’ve posted your pic with the correct tags. From there, the motors whir, the machine vends at random, and you could walk away with some Nissin instant noodles, swag or other prizes.
Some specifics: Your feed must be public—no sense in wasting free noodles on someone with limited visibility, we guess—and, sadly, there’s no hot water dispenser, so while you’ll probably feel instant gratification from the machine, you won’t from a hot, soupy, noodly meal.
Find the Dream Machine in the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, at 3525 W Carson St, and in the Premium Outlets South in Las Vegas through the month of March.