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Late-night conference calls were the norm for Andy Lin when he was an engineer in California for a global semiconductor company. The time difference with clients in Taiwan, where the firm is headquartered, meant he’d often find himself feeling famished after most diners closed.

One night he finished work at around 3 a.m. and decided to see if there were any vending machines that sold what he was craving — satiating soup and noodles. He came up empty. Instead, he discovered on YouTube that there were vending machines serving hot bowls of udon (wheat noodles) in Japan 30 to 40 years ago.

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