Buying meat from a vending machine sounds like a bad food dare (kind of like dollar-store steaks).
It’s actually a bit of food genius.
Impulse meat buying has become one of my new favorite things thanks to meat vending machines popping up in the area.
The meat machine is the creation of Owens Meats, a popular Cle Elum butcher that also produces smoked meats.
The refrigerated vending machines allow the company to export its meat from the other side of the mountain pass to its fans over on this side of the state.
They’ve sprung up in Pierce County at two locations.
One is at Half Lion Brewery in Sumner. The other is in a breezeway at Point Ruston, across from the front entrance of newly opened Fish Brewing Pub and Eatery.
The apt slogan splashed onto the front of the machine reads, “The candy store for the carnivore.”
What’s inside will shock and amaze you, so long as you’re a devoted fan of cured meat and meat accessories.
I found vacuum-sealed packages of hickory-smoked meat. A package proclaiming “two yards of pepperoni” inside was sliced and bagged in shrink-wrapped plastic ($5.50 to $6). I also spotted bigger packages filled with “five yards” of sliced pepperoni ($13.50). There were also single packs of landjaeger ($6) or beef or turkey jerky ($5.75). The machines take credit cards or cash.
Snack packs combined meat with its most perfect accessory — cheese. I liked the look of the “Good Stuff” pack with sliced pepperoni and cubed cheese ($7 to $10.50) and spotted the bargain-priced pack of pepperoni-and-cheese ($4.50) but ultimately went home with a salami-and-cheese combo of blocky cuts of cheese with thin-sliced salami that carried a peppery bite ($6.50).
If you get one thing, get the all-beef, spicy pepperoni stuffed with cheese ($11), which yielded six fat smoked pepperoni sticks with a channel of creamy cheddar running right through the middle.
Find the machines
Half Lion Brewery: 1723 West Valley Hwy E., Sumner.
Point Ruston: In the breezeway across from the front door of Fish Brewing Pub and Eatery at 5108 Grand Loop, Ruston.