The South Street Bakery Vending Machine: A Full Review

Too much of a queue in Dervish? Poppy Booth has got you covered for a drunken snack.

There are only three important categories of people at this university: those who have no idea about the magical machine on south street, and those that don’t. For the latter group, this article won’t help you – you are part of the exclusive club (which will not be exclusive for much longer, sorry) that gives the Bakery Vending Machine its revenue. However, for the two other categories, I seek to enlighten you and change your mind about this slightly dodgy looking alternative to Empire, Dervish and Courtyard.
First, some background. I have been walking past this machine since I came to St Andrews, and never looked twice at it. It just didn’t look very legit, and as the sceptic I am, I never assumed that people actually used it. It also took me longer than I care to admit to notice that it disappeared during the day; observation has never been my strong suit. But, one Friday night on the way back from a packed Toastie Church, I saw the machine being used. It was at this moment that I knew it was me who needed to do this vital research instead of researching for my essays. I owed it to the people of St Andrews to find out all I could about this elusive contraption, and it was a sacrifice I was more than willing to make.
Photo: Poppy Booth
After some thorough field work, I discovered that the vending machine appears sometime after the closing of ‘G. H. MacArthur and Sons’ – that’s the bakery, I didn’t realise that was its name either – and remains there, in the doorway, until the opening the next day. Yes, that’s right, it’s there all night; even after the measly 3am closing of our favourite late-night haunts. It is stocked with the left overs of that days baked goods, meaning they are still all pretty fresh. I also discovered that not all the goods that are pictured on the front of the vending machine are necessarily in stock on any given night. It is down to the consumer to find out by trial and error which late night snack they are entitled to.
Now onto the important stuff: how good is the actual food available? For those of you wanting cheesy chips, this is not the place for you: stick to your usual choice. But for the more adventurous of you out there craving something more alternative than the classic St Andrews takeaway, the vending machine holds everything from apple tarts and doughnuts to bacon rolls and mac & cheese.
While some of the savoury options really don’t sound too appetising after a night out to many (sober) people, the desserts are another story. They are actually good. The tarts, coming in both apple and rhubarb, and at a respectable price of £1.50 each, were what I sprung upon my friends to taste-test. Everyone who [forcibly] partook in my research rated them highly, and among slightly less relevant comments like ‘I’m not your test dummy’, they harvested many positive remarks, including ‘it’s not bad’ and ‘good deal’. A stellar review.
Photo: Spoon University
I’d actually heard word about the fudge doughnuts from this particular bakery, so I was excited to see if the vending machine ones lived up to the hype. Well, I’m sure many of you will be happy to hear that I was, indeed, impressed. If you’re craving something super sweet and indulgent after your time in 601, I would recommend splashing out £2 on this popular item.
This vending machine is, arguably, a slightly not-that-hidden gem in this town. Despite its bright illuminated front saying very clearly that it is a ’24-Hour Bakery’, I never really see people using it. Maybe this is because it seems odd to get actual baked food from a vending machine, but trust me, all of the items are so well wrapped and are fresh from that day. And even if you don’t want the food, it’s quite a fun experience, so try it out. Please. Otherwise I’ve really wasted my time.
I’ll get back to my essay now.



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