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Aw, Shucks: There's an Oyster Vending Machine in France

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American vending machines have often failed to live up to the distribution kiosk's full potential. While North America is usually content to stuff machines full of chips, candy, and soda, international displays dispense everything from gold (in Dubai) to raw milk (in London).

Our national embarrassment continues, as the small French island of Île de Ré has recently installed a machine that dispenses oysters, according to Condé Nast Traveler.

The inspiration came when island oyster farmers Brigitte and Tony Berthelot had trouble staying open long enough to accommodate all of the customers who wanted mounds of their delicious mollusks. To offer 24/7 service, they decided to install a machine that's filled with fresh inventory daily.

"People always arrive when the shop door is closed, which is frustrating for customers and for us," Tony Berthelot told Ruptly TV. "So we looked at the systems, we looked at what was being done in agriculture, because there are many distributors in the countryside. We contacted a manufacturer who responded and who fitted a machine for oysters since it is a particular product that is not very restrictive but requires some adjustments."

Patrons walk up to the machine—which is indoors—and pay, then select a crate from one of several compartments built into the unit. The oysters are sold closed, so it's not quite fast food, but the price is the same as if you bought them during normal operating hours: a batch of 12 goes for around $8. If you order ahead while the store is still open, they can customize your request with additional items like sea asparagus. 

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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Something Something Soup Something
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This Game About Soup Highlights How Tricky Language Is
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Something Something Soup Something

Soup, defined by Merriam-Webster as "a liquid food especially with a meat, fish, or vegetable stock as a base and often containing pieces of solid food," is the ultimate simple comfort food. But if you look closer at the definition, you'll notice it's surprisingly vague. Is ramen soup? What about gumbo? Is a soy vanilla latte actually a type of three-bean soup? The subjectivity of language makes this simple food category a lot more complicated than it seems.

That’s the inspiration behind Something Something Soup Something, a new video game that has players label dishes as either soup or not soup. According to Waypoint, Italian philosopher, architect, and game designer Stefano Gualeni created the game after traveling the world asking people what constitutes soup. After interviewing candidates of 23 different nationalities, he concluded that the definition of soup "depends on the region, historical period, and the person with whom you're speaking."

Gualeni took this real-life confusion and applied it to a sci-fi setting. In Something Something Soup Something, you play as a low-wage extra-terrestrial worker in the year 2078 preparing meals for human clientele. Your job is to determine which dishes pass as "soup" and can be served to the hungry guests while avoiding any items that may end up poisoning them. Options might include "rocks with celery and batteries in a cup served with chopsticks" or a "foamy liquid with a candy cane and a cooked egg served in a bowl with a fork."

The five-minute game is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but Gualeni also hopes to get people thinking about real philosophical questions. According to its description page, the game is meant to reveal "that even a familiar, ordinary concept like 'soup' is vague, shifting, and impossible to define exhaustively."

You can try out Something Something Soup Something for free on your browser.

[h/t Waypoint]

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