INVENTIONS: Golden Brown, Coming Down

Golden Brown, Coming Down

Can a vending machine become a short-order cook? Apparently yes, but the menu is still limited. Prize Frize of Palm Springs, Calif., last week began selling an automated dispenser of fresh-cooked French fries. For 75 cents or $1, it adds water to a dehydrated potato concentrate, forms the mix into fries, plops them into hot oil, and in one minute delivers a 4-oz. serving.

Although Prize Frize now has French-fry vending to itself, big-name competition is on the way. Boise-based Ore-5Ida, the largest U.S. retailer of 6frozen potato products, is developing a machine that uses frozen fries instead of a mix.

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