The Pneumatic Tube System has Been Used to Transport Fast Food, People, and Even Cats!

The pneumatic tube delivery system feels like something of the future, but guess what? There have already been food deliveries done through the pneumatic tube! Banks already use the air pressure in pneumatic tubes to help with transportation too and it’s not just food or bank slips, but people. Even cats have gone through the pneumatic tube. No cats, people, or dishes were harmed in this futuristic transport process either. Washington Security Products manufactures and distributes pneumatic tube carriers for transporting items. Let’s look deeper into the pneumatic tube system in this article.

Pneumatic Tube System Used to Transport Fast Food

The pneumatic tube food delivery system is basically the process of food using air pressure. One New Zealand restaurant took this delivery system to the next level after their owner saw the idea on the cartoon Futurama. Sliders are stacked inside a metal tube where they are shot from the kitchen and directly to a diner’s table.

How does it work?

Think of it like receiving your food in the same way that you would normally receive your bank slip at the drive-through! These tubes are made extra strong so that they’re able to hold more than just sliders. As they’ve advanced, they’ve been made better so that it’s possible to send out burgers and fries at the same time. They’re also safe too thanks to the air-brake system that will slow down your food before it reaches your table.

Set up

Can you imagine how difficult it is to set up a pneumatic food transport system though? Installing the system at a restaurant is definitely a difficult task depending on the set up of the restaurant. Tables along the wall need the burgers to arrive from above, while center tables need to get burgers from below the table.

Set up certainly takes a while too! If a restaurant wants to have a pneumatic transport system, it will take more than a year with very slow implementation of new tables each month. It might just be worth it though considering how easy it will be to get delicious food.

Pneumatic Tube System Used to Transport People

You’ve seen the pneumatic tube at your bank, but while this is probably the only instance you can think of when you’ve seen that tube, people originally conceptualized this kind of transport a little more widely—like with the transportation of people!

Early Deliveries

From the very beginning of the creation of the pneumatic tube, as early as 1812, people have thought about sending people along just by the transport of air. Of course, they didn’t quite imagine the tube shape but rather thought about using air to transport people via train. There were even a few attractions to show this process, even if it never quite moved to a wider adaptation.

In the end, it was just deemed too difficult to move people over long distances like that. Could you imagine sitting in an air-powered tube? Still, these tubes inspired a lot of thought on the delivery of packages, and yes, even cats.

Tube Conceptions

Early tubes were considered to be something like a subway: people sitting in tubes with seats and compartments, kind of like the railroad. In essence, we’ve used the railroad design, but we haven’t worked to transport people via airpower quite like it was imagined.

Pneumatic Tube System Used to Transport Cats

For the sake of experimenting with the tube system, the New York Post Office was one of the many to adopt the pneumatic tube for a sort of limited use. A few other cities in the US and Europe started doing this as well, but it was North Philadelphia that sent a cat and an aquarium through it, along with eggs, china, and hot tea. They even put a rabbit into the tube as well.

Don’t worry, because all of the creatures did make it out okay. When they put a sick cat in the tube to get it to a veterinarian faster, it was just fine, although it was scared enough to jump out and run away as fast as it could.

Tube System

The tube system began in New York City in 1897 and lasted until 1953 to transport tubes full of mail around the city at 35 miles per hour. These tubes even had special workers named “Rocketeers” who helped with the transport of around 95,000 letters per day.
As you can imagine, when the tube system was instituted, the occasion was marked by increasingly epic items. This includes Bibles, the Constitution, and yes, a black cat. The cat was indeed okay, but people didn’t necessarily think that it would live through the journey. The poor cat was a bit dazed when it arrived and tried to run before it was placed back in a basket.

This cat was the first animal to move through the system, although it wasn’t the last. Many other animals were said to have gone through the tubes, including dogs, mice, roosters, guinea pigs, and monkeys too.

Killing the Tube

You might wonder why you don’t see these kinds of tube transport systems in places that aren’t your bank. Really, it’s just because the process of truck delivery improved, which made the tube system impractical. This was as early as 1914, although the tube transport system is still being used in individual USPS buildings. It’s made it much easier for the movement of mail in an efficient way, even if we don’t see these types of tubes transporting cats anymore.


The pneumatic tube is usually something that you see at the bank, or maybe inside the post office to move mail from one place to the next. It’s not something that you see being used to transport cats, humans, or even food, but that’s what it’s been used for in the past. It may not be used for such things anymore, but who knows—it may just be the new innovation in food transport.