Edward Hopper's 1927 oil-on-canvas Automat depicts a forlorn looking girl sipping coffee by herself in an automat, which, in case you didn't know, is essentially a room full of coin-operated fast food vending machines. Hopper's work is said to depict the urban alienation that occurs when once-social practices like going out for a bite become completely automatic, rendering human-to-human interaction unnecessary. While a plausible interpretation, Blognut has an alternate theory to explain the girl's woes –simply that the automat she's chosen doesn't offer Donuts. Too bad us New Yorker's can't relate, because thanks to BAMN! we have automatic Donut access 24 hours a day.
BAMN! with icicles.
Founded by NYU Business School grad David Leong, and another guy named Nobu who writes Haikus, BAMN! opened just last year on St. Mark's Place in the East Village. The place is a sort of homage to the classic Horn & Hardart automats which once pervaded our Northeastern cities. The first H & H opened in Philly in 1902 as a knock-off of the Quisiana Automat in Berlin , while the first NYC location popped up in 1912. By the 50s and 60s the automatic format was gradually snuffed out by America's growing fascination with fast-food, cars and golden arches – and probably also something to do with the fact that inflation made buying food with coins a pain in the ass (automats were not equipped to accept paper money).
BAMN!'s fare is based in classic, over-processed American comfort food with an "Asian twist." Sliders. Hot dogs. Pizza, Mac & cheese. PB & J croquettes. Hawaiian-inspired Spam sushi. Pork buns. And like I said, Donuts. (Oh yeah, and they've got Belgian frites with 39 different sauces too).
BAMN! refers to their Donuts as "Japanese." I assume this label stems from their resemblance to the classic ball of Okinawian fried dough, the Sata Andagi. But for us Westerners, all you really need to know is that they cost $1.00 American (like their ancestors, change only) and look and taste like zeppole. Basically just straight-foward, unflavored, yeast-raised dough covered in powdered sugar, BAMN!'s Donuts certainly don't have much in the way a flavor. But having flavor isn't the point, right? They're instead meant to sponge up booze from the stomachs of East Village all-nighters, while providing the kitsch and nostalgia of automatic food retrieval, which they do wonderfully.
So if you're in the market for a fast and super-cheap late-night sugar fix, but have absolutely no requirement that your Donuts actually taste good, then definitely hit up BAMN!. Otherwise, I'd stick with the more corporate all-night alternative.
BAMN! Donut Scores: