It's not uncommon for people to have champagne wishes and caviar dreams, even if they live on a beer budget. But a new invention from Beverly Hills Caviar is helping to make those highbrow fantasies more attainable to the regular blue collar crowd.
Kelly Stern and Brian Scheiner, husband-and-wife caviar connoisseurs, have developed a caviar vending machine. The first were unveiled Nov. 23 at Westfield Topanga, Burbank Town Center and Westfield Century City shopping centers in California.
"What I want to do is make caviar affordable for everybody," Stern told ABCNews.com. "What's the point of being in business in America if you can't sell to all of America? We decided to choose three separate malls because any normal person with kids is not living in West Hollywood. Normal people live in the suburbs. The caviar is accessible, not next to Louis Vuitton and not next to Armani or Burberry. It's in a convenient place where you're not uncomfortable with someone looking at you checking out."
Stern said she wants their customers to be at ease while choosing the products they're buying.
"We want everybody to just go there and play with it and have fun with it and buy what they want. Buy stuff for $50. Buy stuff for $5,000. No one is judging you," Stern said.
The idea for the vending machines came innocently enough, from their now-5-year-old daughter's obsession with cupcakes.
"Our daughter was three and half, and she came up with it when we bought a cupcake on the Sprinkles machine," Stern said. "She looked at me and said, 'Mommy can we put caviar in the machine?' My husband was like, 'Hmm, that's a very interesting idea.' She's five today and here you go. We have the first caviar machine and they're pretty amazing."
The vending machines offer a range of caviar, from an Imperial River Beluga Caviar at $500 per ounce, down to actually-affordable Wasabi Tobiko caviar for only $10 an ounce, which has been much more popular with the crowd.
Caviar isn't the only delicacy being offered. A full selection of other unusual gourmet foods, not typically found at your supermarket, include items like escargot, gourmet salts, and truffle oils. For your four-legged friends, there's even a special assortment of caviar just for your dogs and cats.
The caviar is guaranteed fresh, too. The goods are dispensed in insulated boxes, and need about 30 minutes to defrost for the optimum dining experience.
"The caviar is preserved in perfect temperature and definitely no moisture," Stern said. "It's not manhandled, because you don't want people to touch it. You don't want a high-ticket item to be handled by people. We are trying to keep it as sanitary as possible. It comes in a sanitary bag, in a sanitary box with a mother of pearl spoon so it's ready to eat."
The total inventory retail worth is about $50,000, which also raised concerns about security and the possibility of items being stolen. Three cameras were installed in each machine to take your picture as you purchase.
"We have a lot of eyeballs on the machines," said Stern. "A lot of people are looking. Even if it takes them a long time to make the move, we know as soon as they will, they'll be clients for life. They were told all their life this wasn't attainable, and now it is. We are here right now to just convince everybody to try it once."