Delicious deep-fried potato could soon be coming to a vending machine near you, if a project currently being trialled in the Netherlands is successful.
The Netherlands-based startup Caenator has designed and implemented (with help from startup assistance company Start Life and Wageningen University and Research Centre) a vending machine that dispenses fresh fries.
The first batch of fries was served by the machine on the Wageningen University campus on September 2 to professor Louise Fresco, president of the Wageningen UR executive board, paying a single euro ($1.11) for a large serving.
The machine is fully automatic, with a 32-inch colour touchscreen on which the customer can place their fries order, with optional mayonnaise, curry sauce or ketchup. Salt and a fork are supplied in a separate box.
The fries are then deep-fried in the machine at a temperature of over 170 degrees Celsius (338 degrees Fahrenheit), taking a total of just 110 seconds. These are then dispensed in a paper cup, with a proprietary dispenser designed specially so that the fries don't get broken or crushed.
The entire operation, the company claims, is noiseless and odourless, the latter thanks to a proprietary odour-scrubbing system.
Inside the machine is a freezer compartment with enough room for 25kg (55lb) of frozen chips. These are kept frozen at -18 degrees Celsius (-0.4 degrees Fahrenheit), and dropped straight from the freezer into the deep fryer when an order is placed.
A double door separates the frozen compartment from the deep-frying compartment, which is situated safely away from the vending machine (and the user). After cooking, the fries are transported to the dispenser via lift.
Bastiaan Roest from Caenator said in a statement that vendors around the world have already shown interest in the machine.
"Caterers and bar and restaurant owners see the machine as a way to retain or increase their turnover," he said. "Public transport companies see the machine as a way to make waiting less annoying. For various budget hotels, it is a way to offer a service to their guests 24/7."