7-Elevens in the fine city-state of Singapore serve piping-hot mashed potatoes out of machine that looks like it should dispense coffee, not food. It's also self-serve. For about a dollar (or two dollars if you want a drink with it) this machine will eject a slurry of instant potatoes and hot water into your waiting cup. Then, with the push of another button, you can top it all off -- with not just regular chicken gravy, but BBQ chicken gravy.
The video below shows the entire process from start to finish. While much is being made of how "unnatural" it all looks, we ask that you consider the "food" most stateside convenience stores serve. More to the point, have you had the potatoes at KFC?
Of course the videos of the process breaking down are pretty damn hilarious, too.
New Times clearly doesn't have a Singapore bureau, so we decided to asked some questions in the active Singapore sub-forum of Reddit. After an obligatory comment about a certain number of girls and a cup, the community expressed a consensus about the mashed potato machines.
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- Mashed potatoes from a machine were introduced around 4 years ago and seem to be restricted to 7-Elevens.
- Unsurprisingly, "mashed potatoes and gravy" has no deep culinary or cultural significance to any of the major ethnic subgroups in Singapore.
- The machines are of fair to middling popularity.
- The major draws of the mashed potato machine is that it's hot and cheap. An important factor in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
- On the whole, Singaporeans are a little baffled by how much attention this is getting from a country that has a longer and closer association with the dish. It sounds like an unremarkable eating experience, comparable to eating a convenience store hot dog is here.
And now we have to imagine how this scene, from an American movie classic, would have played out in Singapore: