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East Coast Nostalgia in the Netherlands

An automat in Eindhoven, Netherlands of all places.


One of my biggest thrills as a kid in the 1950s when we visited New York City was to go to the Horn & Hardart Automat. The last one closed in 1991—and I haven’t seen anything similar in the U.S. since. But: Walking around Eindhoven, Netherlands, there was the automat concept visible in the doorway of an eatery. Why here in the Netherlands, but not in the U.S.? Perhaps it results from substitution in the U.S. toward low-skilled, relatively low-priced labor as food dispensers, leading to fast-food restaurants rather than automats. Or perhaps our preferences have been altered by the ubiquity of fast-food restaurants. I don’t know.
Contest: Automats were a neat bit of (East Coast) U.S. culture. They even made it into musical references: Name three of them, and if you’re the first person to do so, I’ll send you a copy of the 4th edition of Economics Is Everywhere next December.


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