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Little Caesars Has a Patent for a Pizza-Making Machine (thespoon.tech)
46 points by michaewolf 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 56 comments

The future of pizza is self-driving pizza ovens. It sounds ridiculous, but just imagine a pizza delivery place that has no physical store, no employees, and can deliver you a pizza in 15 minutes, fresh out of the oven.

It seems inevitable.

Zume Pizza is doing exactly this as well: https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/09/zume-scores-48-million-in-...

I notice they automate only the really easy steps. I don't see this saving more than 10 seconds worth of minimum wage human labor while having people handle the dough plus 30 seconds for a human to add toppings etc. That final robot was worse as the convener could just dump the pizza into the oven directly.

On top of that you now need complex maintenance and cleaning to keep things working correctly.

It would be a little challenging. A proper pizza oven is about five or six hundred degrees minimum, and the pie bakes in 5 to 10 minutes or maybe less in some cases. And when it's done the toppings and sauce and cheese are pretty much a liquid. Going around the corner too fast will slosh at all to one side.

If it only takes that long, it could just cook while parked at destination

what? you sure you thought this through? So instead of having one kitchen producing pizzas all day long, you cut off half (or worse) of that productive time for traveling around?

All this complexity just to save on the cost of having some land to put a bunch of ovens sounds absolutely ludicrous.

I'd say the point of cooking en route is not for productivity but for freshness.

The point of the pizzeria (at least for its owners) is to make money. If you're spending 5 minutes at the destination cooking a pizza, that's either going to be one expensive pizza or the pizzeria is going out of business in a few months.

It's going to be one expensive pizza, of course. That is the target market. Think gated communities, high property-tax areas, etc..

One word. Juicero.

The problem with venture capital is it optimizes for bullshit. If you bootstrap, you have no choice but to actually be a legitimate business, because you don't get paid otherwise.

That problem could be solved with some stabilization techniques, like that "smart" spoon for parkinson works (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNwfXeLlqsU)

What if you put the oven within a gyroscope? Seems like a solvable problem.

At that point wouldn't you just be over engineering with little gain and increased costs. My biggest worry would be cleaning and how handle the yeast cultures for forming dough, letting it rise, and all those intricacies.

Nah, eventually you could just download a Proprietary Recipe [TM], into your Cook-3000 and a steaming hot pizza will come out in under 10 minutes. All ingredients that are not in store, are sourced automatically, through the Internet and delivered by a combination of autonomous truck/drone delivery system, where the drone takes the food cartridges that are in fact, brown paper cartridges filled with cubed veggies/meats/cheese directly to your autonomous pantry/fridge.

Almost ... except that the consumer won't own the appliance! It will be shared by users, and the supply chain will be pre-emptively managed by the operating company. We are on track for deployment next year in Shenzhen. Raising 3Q. http://infinite-food.com/

I keep seeing you guys posting your website everywhere, but I haven't actually read any news, or seen any actual product.

You would get a lot more interest if you at least had some information on the product.

I'm really interested in the product, but I don't even know what the product is. Looking at your website, it just looks like a vending machine?

Glad you are interested. The current level of information sharing is intentional.

Then why bother spam-posting in non-related HN threads?

You have a strange definition of spam on a startup tech community forum, and a very strange definition of non-related for a thread half-heartedly crystal-balling the future of tech-based food distribution. I rarely post about my company.

This sounds like every nightmare I've ever had about capitalism gone out of control.

Flying pizza oven swarms with predictive flocking patterns.

At least where I am, Little Ceasars doesn't even do delivery, although it seems they have a Doordash partnership of some kind. The focus seems to be on having the lowest price.

Needless to say, doing so is illegal pretty much everywhere. You cannot sell from a vehicle without a proper license from the government in many places at all.

Neat idea, but I don't think they will be needed since there will already be fleets of delivery drones.

The sauce part isn't new https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Q0vk_fKDEo

Nor is the oven: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZW_Maj0g8cg

Nor are dry ingredient spreaders for anything from cheese to sliced meats regularly used at an industrial scale for frozen pizza and bruschetta already.

The fact that all the components exist but aren't in common use in delivery pizza isn't due to lack of innovation in the area, more likely it's cheaper with better throughput to have the labour of 4 pizza chefs rather than the expertise to keep an assemblage of these machines running in all the local pizza places.

For the industrial and frozen segment they make perfect sense, but on the "hot" pizza side they're probably more useful in collective bargaining than anything else.

>The fact that all the components exist but aren't in common use in delivery pizza isn't due to lack of innovation in the area, more likely it's cheaper with better throughput to have the labour of 4 pizza chefs rather than the expertise to keep an assemblage of these machines running in all the local pizza places.

I think this is what it comes down to. I was picking up a pizza at Dominos the other day, and while the girl was ringing up my order, she was also taking calls for orders and manually entering them into the computer. The workload for one person seemed absurd. I started wondering "why on earth doesn't dominos just staff a call center in India and have the orders forwarded to the store's ticketing system?".

And then I realized It's because that would be a cost center, and the food industry is already on tiny margins (<2%) as it is. It is simply cheaper and easier to offload all of that work onto a $9/hr employee you're already paying that will be replaced every 3 months after burning out. Modern capitalism has become brutally efficient at the expense of humanity.

> I started wondering "why on earth doesn't dominos just staff a call center in India and have the orders forwarded to the store's ticketing system?".

Or, y'know, Twilio. Voice recognition on limited grammars (such as pizza toppings + addresses) is already crazy good. And the system can always repeat back what the customer said to confirm it parsed it correctly.

Or, go one step further: have no phone number, only a website. There's an cellular MVNO in Canada (https://www.publicmobile.ca/) that operates using this cost-cutting model, and they seem to be doing pretty well.

I have the nagging feeling that Telus is trying to kill the PublicMobile 'experiment' by transitioning their customers to Koodo before the bury the coffin.

Why are there ads all over the place for public mobile then?

It is weird that they were redirecting their customers to Koodo when they stopped offering a certain favorable plan.

Yep, and that to me should be regulated. It shouldn’t be possible to make a job so needlessly stressful and probably cruel.

Little Ceasars has started replacing humans with robots at least 5 years ago :)


I think you are correct, but in the nearish future I don’t think it’s unlikely that the costs come down to the point where cheaper to use these machines than to pay for the labor of 4ish chefs.

I think a big part of it comes down to handling maintance and repair for the machines. Maybe they’ll move to having one technician on call to service a large area. Or maybe they will try to make the devices simple enough that they can train normal employees to do maintaince and fix problems.

Cheese and sauce spreading utensils have been available for decades and a lot of pizzerias use them. They're especially helpful for portion control. Not so sure about pepperoni, but doesn't seem like it would be much of a challenge especially something like a slicer that cuts solid pepperoni sausages and flings the slices onto the pie.

I'd be more impressed with a robot that could flatten, spread, and toss a ball of dough, that's a bit more of an art form.

We have machines for that. Btw you don't need to toss the dough, that's just for looks, as for flattening and spreading, it's fairly standard and straight forward if everything is portion controlled correctly.

Source: 17 year chef and recently helped a friend setup a highly successful pizza shop.

thats a shame, one of my local pizza makers used to serve dime bags with the pizza. robots cant do that :p

Here in Oregon they could.

is it supposed to be a means to an end, or do I get to know the robot? :p

The promise of AI

They have a pizza vending machine which makes and cooks a fresh pizza.


I heard years ago they were going to have these in a large theme park in Orlando, but the article didn't which mention one. Not sure if it ever happened.

Here's a video I just found of someone using one: https://youtu.be/tTLXzF5u13I

Replacing higher operational costs (from laws mandating a higher minimum wage) with a one-time capital cost. Bound to happen.

The local McDonalds now has kiosk ordering.

I heard they were going to start doing that. Haven't happened here where I am. I wonder if you can tell it you don't want onions or pickles like you can tell a worker on your burgers, since I'm a bit of a picky eater.

I also wonder if touch screens spread more germs, but I guess you could argue the same for door knobs anyways.

The kiosks over here allow you to customize your order, and I assume they're the same everywhere.

It does appear that the kiosks are limited to removing the default ingredients, rather than allowing extra ingredients. Maybe this is a general policy change, but in the past I recall asking for bacon on a bacon-less burger and getting it. So could be that ordering with a person still has an advantage in some cases.

Hey, maybe they can either make their terrible pizza even cheaper, or maybe make less terrible pizza for the same price.

There's worse. Ultra cheap buffet pizza like Cici's. Little Caesars isn't great, but it's edible.

Little Caesar's gets its cheese from Leprino, same supplier as more expensive (and also "meh") chain pizza places.

Getting the cheese from the same supplier doesn't mean it's the same cheese. I expect that they produce a somewhat different product for each major customer.

Little Caesars is completely inedible to my taste.

As far as I know, Leprino doesn't have any low end or "fake cheese" products. Just saying the ingredients are on par with other uninspired chain pizza, but not pure garbage.

Little Caesars does skimp on quantity. Like 2 pepperoni per slice, and perhaps less cheese, for example.

There are a lot of gradations of quality between top-end cheese and fake cheese.

I would be extremely surprised if a customer the size of Little Caesars or Dominos doesn't specify its requirements down to the smallest detail.

Those details would be considered proprietary information and/or trade secrets, of course, so neither the cheese company nor the pizza chain would be interested in discussing it or making it public information.

Hrm okay. I don't see much difference between Domino's, Pizza Hut, Papa John's and Little Caesar's. They are all edible, but meh...none of them terrible, but no real difference or real "mmm" factor. I go to specific mom and pop places that do NY style pizza that's actually good. Most of the good ones seem to use Lisante ingredients. Can't think of a chain place that's memorable.

Might be different if I lived in NYC or Chicago. Here in Texas, just mom-and-pop vs chain is the real difference. Fwiw, most of them are Albanian owned vs Italian. Outside of the Northeast US, there isn't much real pizza lineage/history/culture.

They don’t use any better or worse ingredients than other low end chains - it’s the quality of the assembly of the pizza by the workers.

Little C’s always seems to be full of air bubbles and uneven toppings and they serve up those hot n readies that have been in the warmer all day.


Interesting article about leprino a while back.

The future of Pizza is a 3D printer at home that prints out your dinner right at your dinner table.

No, make that printed directly into your stomach, via a plugin.

Preferably microwaveable, and expanding to 10x its' size.

But then we won't be able to experience the taste and chewing.

If you're at Little Caesars/Pizza Hut, that's not something you care about.

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