The Automat Returns

The Automat Returns

Under the category of “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” is the return of the Automat.

The original Automat opened in Berlin in 1895.  America’s first Automat was opened by Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart in Philadelphia, in 1902. Their Automat chain, Horn and Hardart, grew in popularity, with over 100 restaurants in New York City by the 1950s.

Restaurants served home-style comfort food.  Many even had a wall of pies, with hot coffee being one of their most popular items.  Diners could see their item through a window, and then insert a coin and turn a chrome and porcelain handle to receive their hot meal.  At its peak, over 800,000 customers ate at a Horn and Hardart’s each day.

The Automat offered customers an efficient and affordable dining experience, with at one time over 400 choices of food.  Behind the scenes, an assembly line of workers replenished the items in the machines.

However, their popularity declined as the popularity of fast food restaurants, such as McDonald’s and Burger King, grew to replace them in the marketplace.  In fact, in the 1970s, several of Horn and Hardart’s Automats were replaced Continue reading

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The Rebirth of Ice Cream Deliveries

The Rebirth of Ice Cream Deliveries

In the early 1900s, salespeople delivered Wall’s ice cream on tricycles. Today, the concept is resurrected.

Thomas Wall started selling ice cream as a seasonal product designed to offset slumping sausage sales during the summer. Lever Brothers bought Wall’s company; it later merged with Maragarine Unie to become Unilever, a multinational corporation now known as the “king of ice cream.”  Sold in 63 countries, its ice cream brand portfolio now accounts for 19% of the global market. In 2020, as the pandemic lingered on and people spent more time at home, the company brought back the old concept of delivering ice cream on wheels, but this time directly to consumers’ homes. The company constantly innovates. Nevertheless, uncertainty about future lockdowns in 2021 makes the next big idea a little elusive.


Video Spotlight: How a Viennetta Is Made


This post is based on the CNN article, This Company Conquered the Ice Cream Market. Home Delivery Is the Final Frontier, by H. Ziadi, November 14, 2020, and the YouTube video, How a Viennetta Is Made, by d100965, November 17, 2013. Image source: M. Unal Ozmen / Shutterstock.

Discussion Questions:

1. Describe the evolution of ice Continue reading

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Pfizer’s Massive Vaccine Cold Chain

Pfizer’s Massive Vaccine Cold Chain

December 10, 2020

Pfizer is building an ambitious supply chain and distribution system to deliver hundreds of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine to vaccination sites in three days.

The vaccine is manufactured in Kalamazoo, Michigan and Puurs, Belgium at a rate of 7.6 million doses daily.  Shipping containers that can keep the loaded doses at a temperature of -100 Fahrenheit for up to 10 days are used to transport doses from the manufacturing sites to nearby airports as cargo on planes from FedEx, UPS, and DHL.

These carriers are also responsible for trucking doses from airports to vaccination sites such as hospitals.


Video Spotlight: 


This post is based on the Fierce Pharma article, Planes, trucks and ultracold boxes: Pfizer preps massive COVID-19 vaccine distribution effort, by Eric Sagonowsky, October 21, 2020; the NPR article, Why Does Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine Need To Be Kept Colder Than Antarctica?, by Selena Simmons-Duffin, November 17, 2020, and the YouTube video in the Spotlight. Image source: Wright Studio/Shutterstock

Discussion Questions:

1. Is Pfizer’s vaccine supply chain transparent?  Explain.

Guidance: Pfizer’s vaccine supply chain has Continue reading

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