The way it functioned was very interesting. When the Drink button was pressed it made an instant but highly detailed examination of the subject’s taste buds, a spectroscopic analysis of the subject’s metabolism and then sent tiny experimental signals down the neural pathways to the taste centers of the subject’s brain to see what was likely to go down well. However, no one knew quite why it did this because it invariably delivered a cupful of liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.
-Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy
If you’ve encountered one of these machines you’ve probably discovered that no matter what you select it comes out tasting vaguely like everything else it also dispenses. Never before has anyone thought to combine lemonade with Coke, Vanilla Coke, Cherry Coke, green tea, Powerade, Sprite, at least four flavors of Fanta, orange juice, and assorted other beverages, and if you’ve tasted the result you know why.
It’s a classic example of good idea/bad design. Some engineer came up with a brilliant idea to collapse a standard drink dispenser into the same space as a standard vending machine, saving restaurants approximately six square inches, but didn’t think that something as simple as an intermittent squirt of water to clean the nozzle would be necessary.
Coming up next: how the ancient myth of Sisyphus anticipated Windows 8.