Customers have been chosing to wait in lengthy lines at Sprinkles' new automated cupcake machine, leaving the bricks-and-mortar bakery next door uncharacteristically empty.
Sprinkle’s first-ever automated cupcake dispenser opened for business this week and it’s been so popular that, at one point, customers’ cravings outweighed the machine’s abilities.
"This kind of machine is built to do a couple hundred transactions a day," said Nicole Schwartz, Sprinkles’ director of marketing. "The amount of volume was unprecedented for this machine."
That’s because the ACM – Automated Cupcake Machine, that is – was processing more than 1,000 cupcake sales a day. The machine holds 600 cupcakes.
It wasn’t clear whether overheating or a misguided arm was the culprit, but a couple hours with an engineer and the popular machine was up and running again – and taking attention away from the flagship bakery next door.
"Our customers will line up at the automat while the store is open and there will be a longer line at the ACM than the bakery," Schwartz said.
But there have been some snags, so an ACM guardian angel, of sorts, has been staking out the machine around the clock to make sure everything goes smoothly.
"We have someone there tonight," Schwartz said. "They’ll basically be hanging out by the machine, and hopefully taking a few breaks."
Although a 24-hour cupcake hook up seems perfect enough already, Sprinkles recognizes there could be a few drawbacks.
What could be worse than driving from the Valley, your hopes through the sun roof, only to find an empty ACM?
One idea waiting in the wings is an online inventory, so you can check how many cupcakes, and what flavors, are left in the machine so you don’t waste a trip.
So much excitement has surrounded the inaugural transactions that theories swirled like icing around how the machine would work.
"People had their own ideas," Schwartz said. "Like, will the cupcake be frosted in front of me?"
No robot frosting, but there is some robot grabbing: an automated arm chooses the cupcake and you can watch its journey from cubby to customer.
Each cupcake is individually wrapped, always held upright and there’s no need to worry about freshness.
"Not many people know we’re essentially a 24-hour operation anyway," Schwartz said.
The bakery is only empty for a few hours each night, from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., when the ovens start back up and the shop prepares for another delicious day.
The world’s first ever ACM (they can say that with confidence) was the brainchild of with-child founder Candace Nelson.
Late-night pregnancy cravings spoke to her, and echoed what many die-hard Sprinkles fans had been hoping for.
"Even though she’s the founder and she has a key to the bakery, there’s not a crumb left at the end of the night," Schwartz said.
That’s because Sprinkles donates their leftover goodies to local food banks, fire and police stations.
With the new addition to the bakery’s family, they’re not sure how many cupcakes will be left over for donation. But they’ll still go to a worthy cause with a simple change of schedule.
Rather than deliver the cupcakes at the end of the night, whatever is left in the ACM in the morning will be donated.
Beverly Hills is home to the first-ever cupcake bakery, so it was only fitting that the first ever ACM also made its debut there.
The next lucky cities to get one will likely be New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., mainly because of their bustling nightlife, Schwartz said. But soon enough, all Sprinkles will be outfitted with the machine.
And there may be more coming to Los Angeles – perhaps they'll pop up in Santa Monica or Downtown – to create the most widespread Sprinkles accessibility this side of, well, anywhere really.