(CNN) — It all started when Candace Nelson, a judge on the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars,” had a late-night pregnancy craving for, yes, cupcakes. As the founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes – one of the leading forces behind the haute cupcake craze – she should have had 24-hour access to all the vanillas, red velvets, milk chocolates she wanted, but it was not to be.
Sprinkles was already closed for the night, and Nelson’s craving went unsatisfied. The entrepreneur was inspired, and she turned her misfortune into a goldmine: a 24-hour Cupcake ATM.
“It’s the concept of making sure someone can get a freshly baked cupcake at anytime,” said Sprinkles spokesperson Vineet Chaplot. “We have a lot of customers who like to come later at night.”
The vault holds 600 cupcakes and sits in front of Sprinkles’ flagship store in Beverly Hills. It looks a little peculiar among its ritzy neighbors, but at the same time, it fits in perfectly with the star-laden crowd.
To the casual passerby, it looks just like a regular old cash-dispensing ATM, but a second look tells a different story. Customers flick a touch screen to get started, then up pops a menu of cupcakes, cake mixes, apparel and doggie cupcakes. (Yes, those are cupcakes made specifically for dogs.) Then they make a selection, swipe a credit card, and wait for the fun part.
“While the credit card is processing, you’ll see a video of the actual camera on the robotic arm going and getting the cupcake that you’ll receive,” said Chaplot. The robotic arm places the cupcake onto a platform, and then the dainty cardboard box is revealed at the turn of a cylinder.
“We’re stocking the cupcakes day and night, so anyone that comes to get a cupcake is getting a fresh one. It’s not something that’s been sitting in the machine for a long time.”
At the unveiling on Tuesday, dozens of curious cupcake aficionados stopped by Sprinkles to be among the first to try it out.
“I heard about this and I couldn’t believe it,” said Susanna Adler. “I just told my friends in New York that I had to go check it out. It was very exciting. I got to see the entire cupcake box be pushed out. It was like going to an ATM machine, except I got chocolate instead, which is even better than money.”
Some stylish customers were spotted asking their dogs if they wanted their own sweet treat.
Sprinkles exploded onto the bakery scene seven years ago, and developed quite a following among Hollywood’s elite crowd. Oprah, Katie Holmes, Jake Gyllenhaal and Lindsay Lohan are just some of their biggest fans. So it’s no surprise there’s typically a line out the door.
Inside the bustling store, the cupcakes are $3.50 a pop. The same product from the Cupcake ATM will run $4.00, a 50-cent “ATM fee,” if you will, for the packaging, a one-of-a-kind experience, and the convenience.
“I don’t have time to wait in that big, long line. So it’s great, took me two seconds,” said customer Jennifer Denman. “I love new ideas, I love new technology.”
Sprinkles is expanding this technology to their nine locations across the country. New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago will see Cupcake ATMs on the streets this summer and yes, doggie treats at all locales will be the icing on the cake.
Sonya Hamasaki- CNN