Shady Ideas

Half Mag / Half Zine

Kellogg’s — legal guardian of such cereal mascots as Tony the Tiger and Toucan Sam — has partnered with DoorDash-owned Chowbotics to launch a new cereal-mixing robot at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Florida State University (via Gizmodo). The Kellogg’s Bowl Bot offers a vending machine-type experience for one of the simplest breakfast foods, and charges anywhere from $2.99 to $6.50 for the privilege.

The Bowl Bot could be best thought of as an extension of Chowbotics’ earlier “Sally” fresh food and salad robot. You interact with it via a touchscreen to select through your dairy bases (milk or yogurt), combinations of cereals and granolas, and toppings like fresh fruit or cocoa nibs. Kellogg’s also offers custom pre-designed combinations of cereals at a higher price if something like the “Hawaii 5-0” (Frosted Mini-Wheats, Bear Naked Fit Triple Berry Granola, pineapple, coconut, and mango) sounds better than what you can come up with on your own. While Bowl Bot seems to offer plenty of options, there’s some more human preferences it might not account for, like adding less milk to avoid soggy cereal. Kellogg’s tells The Verge that currently Bowl Bot uses pre-set amounts of milk and yogurt.

Applying the Coca-Cola Freestyle soda machine experience to cereal makes some amount of sense. It takes up less space than a cereal bar and theoretically eliminates the need for individual boxes and walk-ins full of milk. It does also seem like a way to further nickel-and-dime students through a kind of “food DRM.” Each college will handle its meal plans differently, but I’d be pretty annoyed if my unlimited cereal-for-dinner lifestyle got saddled with $3-per-bowl microtransactions.