For about a year, one of my favorite places to eat was a spot in downtown Bangor that had no kitchen and no waitstaff.

My parents did not share my enthusiasm for the Canteen 'restaurant.' Located on Exchange Street, one side of the small room was taken up by vending machines. While there must have been a kitchen somewhere, it certainly wasn't in that cramped space.

Vending machines, at that time, were mostly stocked with cigarettes or snacks. Seriously. You could buy cigarettes from a vending machine, without having to show any identification or proof of age. But the Canteen restaurant was a whole different experience.

The machines at Canteen were stocked with everything from tasty sandwiches on white bread to small cups of soup that you could heat up in the microwave. There were potato chips, French fries that could be heated up in the microwave, and more. For a young kid, it was so much fun pushing the buttons that made the food carousels turn, deciding which food to choose, and watching it being vended out of the  machine. It was a simpler time when this type of technology was still pretty new.

But I remember the groans from my parents when it was my turn to pick the restaurant and I'd say 'Canteen!' They'd try to talk me out of it, tempting me with juicy chicken from KFC or burgers at the Chuck Wagon. (which was located at the former Captain Nick's on Union Street) I can't blame them. Who knows how long those sandwiches had been in that machine. But to a little kid, it was the coolest place ever.

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