Everything about the Hotdog Ez Bun Steamer seems easy, from the idea -- a warm, steamed bun makes for a better dog -- to the steamer itself, which looks like nothing more than a round, wire grate with a hole in the middle and some crude handles at the side, according to a story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Getting his brainchild to market has been a time-consuming, patience-testing and cash-burning experience for Chris Schutte. Even now, with a third appearance on QVC looming and a national grocery store test-marketing effort planned, there is room for concern.
But the Ez Bun Steamer has been somewhere in the back of the 48-year-old Schutte's mind since childhood when, he recalls, his mother steamed long-frozen buns to bring them back to life. One day in 2003 he pulled out a several-day-old bun and used it for a hot dog. It was awful: stale, dry and stiff.
Schutte wondered why he couldn't replicate the steamed buns his mother served or the ballpark-quality dog his friends loved. Then it hit him: Why not use the water that steams the franks to steam the buns? He tried a flat cheese grater placed on top of a pot, but it didn't do the job. That led him to an obsessive tweaking process in which he used all manner of wire frames, adjustable handles and different size pots.
Eventually, he had his "Eureka" moment: creating a grate with a cross-shaped opening so a hot dog could be pulled through with tongs without having to take the grate off the grill.
Photo by Ez Bun Steamer.