Nope. After finding a "Freeosk" that dispensed Rice Krispies treats at the local Sam's Club, I am now convinced that human-free kiosk machines are what we will rely on to feed, clothe, entertain and possibly bathe us in the future.
The Freeosk was about the size of a soda or candy-vending machine; Freeosk Marketing Inc. (an affiliate company of Blue Sky Chicago, an in-store marketing-event company) has been peddling the kiosks since 2010.These freestanding machines are the the latest technological advance in the field of sample-enticement marketing, which traditionally involves paid employees wearing gloves and hairnets, lots of little plastic cups and those tiny sampling spoons. Sampling is a fairly effective way to introduce customers -- and their expendable incomes -- to new products, and cutting out the middlemen seems like a cost-effective plan for companies. But the middlemen could find themselves out of jobs.
In the case of this Freeosk, I was surprised that Rice Krispies were the free samples being offered, since these are by no means new or exciting. Still, I subscribe to the pervading theory that free food tastes better, so I gently placed my card on the "scan" spot, and then watched as a single wrapped treat plopped down into the "grab" slot. And I also couldn't help but notice -- and admire -- the way Sam's Club had strategically placed cases of Rice Krispies Treats for purchase on the conveniently-placed product shelves on the machine.
While I was devouring my treat, I couldn't help but imagine more possibilities for Freeosk samples -- heartburn medication, beer, Skittles. But I also couldn't help feeling pretty f*cking glad I wasn't currently employed as a person giving out product samples in stores...