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This Vending Machine Will Give You (Live) Crabs

Instead of the usual chips, soda, and other processed food, Chinese gourmands can now have a live crab dispensed to them at the mall or airport.

This Vending Machine Will Give You (Live) Crabs

A Chinese entrepreneur has developed a unique kind of vending machine. Instead of candy bars, it dispenses live crabs. The machine itself isn’t especially innovative; it’s a refrigerated version of the sort of spiral-rack snack dispenser familiar in the West. What’s interesting is the packaging, which turns a live aquatic arthropod into an interchangeable part. While we’re often told to focus on fresh over processed food, this machine presents a remarkable industrial twist on bringing fresh food to market

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The delicacy in question is the mitten crab, an estuarine species especially prized in autumn months when the females are heavy with roe. Elsewhere, it’s an invasive species capable of colonizing brackish waters deep inland, from Chesapeake Bay to California; in England, it has infiltrated the Thames estuary as far as London. A good way to curb invasive species is to eat them. So perhaps it’s time we develop a taste for the mitten crab in the West; a few crab-o-matics just might help to keep the species in check.

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About the author

Author of Library: an Unquiet History; cofounder of HiLobrow.com; writer about history, language, technology, and culture for a host of publications in print and online. His short story collection, The Sovereignties of Invention, will appear this Fall under the Red Lemondade imprint.

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