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Scan-and-eat breakfasts available on Shanghai streets

Germaphobes rejoice! The ubiquitous little squares we call QR codes have struck again, and this time, they’re making it so that you won’t have to rummage through your bag for filthy bills and change (seriously, one study found that a Chinese banknote was carrying 178,000 different types of bacteria and had 9,500 organisms from the e. coli family!) while buying thebaozi you so desperately crave in the morning.

Starting yesterday, all it takes is a little scan of the QR codes on some 600 registered breakfast vans located across the city, and breakfast is done, dusted, and in your stomach as you squeeze into the metro.

The service, launched by Alipay, Shanghai Commercial Commission and Shanghai Breakfast Project Industry Associate (that’s a thing now?), aims to have at least 1,000 vans across the city by the end of the month. Purporting to be more hygienic and efficient, these vans are serving up mostly traditional breakfast foods like rice balls, fried dough fritters, breakfast biscuits, soy bean milk and rice porridge from 23 different food companies. The locations of these breakfast vans are scattered throughout the city, but can be found mainly at hotspots for the gathering morning workers, such a Xiangcheng Lu near the Century Avenue cluster of office buildings.

For now, the QR code vans only operate in the mornings for breakfast, so you’re going to have to get your hands dirty if you get peckish past 11am or so. Or perhaps just check out our list of food delivery services on our website that will bring you lunch to your doorstep.