One of the country's leading manufacturers of frozen potatoes worked more than 20 years trying to perfect a french fry vending machine, with little success.
In the 1990s, another company promised just such a machine but foundered amid allegations that it was little more than a stock scam.
Now, a couple of Laurel businessmen, operating in an unassuming business park north of town, say they have come up with the recipe for success, and the state of Delaware is helping them try to prove it.
Late in Delaware's budget process last month, a Democratic senator inserted a $50,000 line item for a Sussex County startup to produce a model for what some call the vending-machine equivalent of the Holy Grail. With the money from the state's strategic fund, the pair hope to launch a manufacturing venture that they say could eventually employ up to 300 people.