Food Technology

Tech Bros Are Trying To Kill The Bodega

Whether you’re hungry after closing time or out for a beer run, the trusty neighborhood bodega (also known as a corner store or simply deli) has your back. Visit one enough and the friendly face behind the counter will remember your sandwich order. You’ll soon realize you’ve developed a special relationship that will last longer than any of those formed via Tinder. Largely owned by immigrants, bodegas bring business to neighborhoods and even keep them safeFast Company reports that two former Google employees are trying to wipe your life completely clean of this with something they call, wait for it, capital-B Bodega.

Paul McDonald and Ashwath Rajan have created “five-foot-wide pantry boxes,” as described by Fast Company, that house snacks and everyday essentials, is app-controlled and equipped with camera technology that senses when objects are taken and charges accordingly. It’s essentially a vending machine that looks like a TV stand, and it’s got investors from all the tech hits like Facebook, Google, Twitter and Dropbox.

The Bodega is as lousy of a bodega substitute as the cat logo is a stand-in for the friendly-enough bodega cat named something adorable like TuTu. It’s not enough. It will never be enough. You can’t pet a logo and then ferociously remind yourself to wash your hands when you get home. By the way, has anyone seen TuTu? She got out last night. Oh there she is, and look what she caught!

Fast Company reports that the concept has been tested throughout the Bay Area in dorms, apartment lobbies, gyms and offices and has just introduced 50 more Bodegas on the West Coast. When asked if repurposing the Spanish word for small stores could seem insensitive, McDonald said he’s not “concerned.”

“We did surveys in the Latin American community to understand if they felt the name was a misappropriation of that term or had negative connotation, and 97% said ‘no.'” Meanwhile, Frank Garcia, chairman of the New York State Coalition of Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is calling for a boycott of Bodegas. The Coalition also represents many Hispanic bodega owners.

McDonald goes on to tell Fast Company his findings after stalking a woman’s purchases over several days.

“One woman in a dorm stopped by the Bodega every day for a packet of microwave popcorn,” he says. “On day three, she picked up nail polish remover, and on day four, she picked up a cookie. This happened because she was coming into contact with these products every day.”

Sir, you’ve just mansplained the concept of a store. Any Walgreens, Target, corner store, vending machine, person in long trench coat with its inside lining open for business could have prided itself in the same series of mundane events. The Bodega doesn’t offer anything the world’s not already equipped with, nor would it provide any additional convenience to daily life an actual bodega already doesn’t. Most importantly perhaps, it clearly doesn’t serve sandwiches.