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How Aberdeen had Scotland’s first pizza vending machine – 16 years before Glasgow

Scotland's real first pizza vending machine... in Mannofield in 2004.
Scotland's real first pizza vending machine... in Mannofield in 2004.

Glasgow is trying to muscle in on a pizza the action from trailblazing Aberdeen by claiming it is home to Scotland’s first ever pizza vending machine.

Sorry guys, despite all the fanfare and headlines, you’ll find the Granite City was way ahead of the Merchant City on the culinary and technological innovation… by more than 16 years.

It was in April 2004 that Heavenly Pizzas opened what really was Scotland’s first hole-in-the-wall for pieces of delicious pie.

I know, because I was one of the first people to try it out.

Rewind to the day after the vending machine had its grand unveiling at Mannofield and I popped along to give it a test drive.

Hot pizza in four minutes

You couldn’t miss the thing – unless you’re from Glasgow – as it was bright orange, lit up and stood out like a beacon on the parade of shops on Great Western Road, with a promise of hot pizza in four minutes.

Big clear instructions, too, designed to be idiot-proof, with just a few buttons to push to deliver your choice of either a margherita or a pepperoni.

You could even order extra pizzas, if you were hungry.

Hole-in-the-wall pizza… Aberdeen was there first.

Was it smooth and flawless?

Not really, the eight quid in pound coins I fed in kept getting rejected and when I started again, I pushed the wrong pizza button, ordered an extra one by accident, then just started pushing things at random.

I was rescued by a nice young man from the shop who pointed out the basics of any new technology. Read the manual. As in read the instructions on the shop window.

Once it got going though, it was smooth sailing other than trying to figure out what to do for four minutes on a windswept street.

Was it tasty?

After the allotted time a pizza box popped out and I was tucking in to a freshly cooked, 12 inch, pre-sliced thin crust pizza. Was it tasty? Better than anything out a vending machine had any right to be, let’s put it that way.

Idiot-proof buttons…almost!

At the time it was launched it was cutting-edge technology – Glasgow take note – according to James Cummings, then managing director of Heavenly Pizzas.

He said: “We are expecting the vending machine to be particularly popular with workers on night shifts or hungry customers on their way home after a night out.”

Lost in time

Mr Cummings had high hopes of rolling the idea out to hospitals and university halls of residences, as well as budget hotels.

However, none of that materialised and quite when the vending machine served its last pizza is lost in the mists of time.

Heavenly closed at Mannofield around three years ago.

Clearly, though, the idea of a pizza vending machine was ahead of its time and no doubt the good people of Glasgow will be enjoying theirs. The technology has improved, it seems. Pizzas now cook in three minutes, not four.

But just remember who got their first…

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