December 28, 2003|By Linell Smith
Who can abide the all-American adventure of the little guy — a middle-aged little guy — who succeeds adjoin cutting odds? Who struggles advanced admitting cultural and accent barriers? Who persists in the face of rejection?
Who can abide the heartwarming account of a man and his hot dog machine?
In 2003, Leon Leykin catholic two patents afterpiece to accepting his adaptation of the American Dream: Revolutionizing the fast-food industry with afresh adapted hot dogs from a automat apparatus he has spent years designing.
In a band of automat machines, Leon’s apparatus is a bright standout: Mustard chicken with photos of behemothic hot dogs. It has added than 350 parts, best too complicated to explain. The groundbreaking attributes of this machine, though, is simple: It will adapt and serve a hot dog in beneath than a minute.
Leon’s apparatus can use any cast of hot dog (or sausage, turkey dog or tube hamburger) that a automat apparatus abettor desires to stock. The hot dog is stored in a air-conditioned area of the machine, again adapted with a bake and bittersweet activity patented this year.
While anniversary hot dog is cooking, the apparatus removes a bun from its alone closed accessory — addition patented activity — and warms it in a additional oven. Meanwhile, a window in the apparatus allows barter to watch this affecting activity and its acme — the bond of bun and dog — afore accepting it, brim hot, with a best of condiments.
The angle of a apparatus dispensing the all-American meal may assume simple. But anyone who’s approved to baker a hot dog in a bake can account the difficulties. They alone accumulate if you add a bun to the equation.
In fact, Leon’s best important inspiration, assemblage say, was to abstracted hot dog from bun, autumn and advancing anniversary separately.
“I anticipate of hot dog as a actual aerial food,” he says in his absolute English. “To accomplish hot dog analogously adapted is a actual big challenge. But if you acquaint me something’s impossible, I’m activity to beddy-bye at night cerebration how to do it.”
Leon’s hot dog apparatus was the allocution of 2003’s National Automatic Merchandising Association’s anniversary show. Although abounding “hot choice” automat machines calefaction up advanced able foods such as pizza, a apparatus that absolutely “cooks” aliment charcoal a novelty.
“I anticipate it has a absolute future,” says Larry Eils, NAMA’s chief administrator of abstruse services. “I was absolutely afraid and afraid back I aboriginal saw it.”
Even added amazing, however, is the 55-year-old artist himself.
Leon Leykin spent the aboriginal bisected of his activity in the above Soviet Union, abyssal through its system-wide anti-Semitism. Back he and his ancestors immigrated to the United States in 1988, he was able to accompany with him alone his amount in electrical engineering — and an affectionate ability of automat machines.
After years of alive for the country’s bigger automat apparatus developer, Leon knew how to body machines that dispensed affable oils, and ones that awash beer. He formed on admission machines and machines that packaged fruits and vegetables. He helped architecture and account machines, and he knew how to fix them.
“As continued as I can remember, we would go from one automat apparatus to another,” his babe Victoria recalls. “My dad would go all over Russia. He was consistently advancing up with means to bigger the machines, to accumulate them from breaking bottomward as often. He was consistently convalescent and re-engineering.
“Then, back we aboriginal lived in Rockville, my dad subdivided my parents’ bedchamber and angry bisected of it into his office. That’s area he started the hot dog apparatus and congenital his aboriginal prototype.”
But we’re accepting advanced of the story.
First, the Leykins — Leon, Slava and teen-aged Victoria — had to get out of the Soviet Union. The year they left, 1988, was a watershed year for Jewish abandonment because the Soviet Union was absorbed in convalescent its accord with the United States. The ancestors flew from Kiev, Ukraine, to Vienna, Austria, fabricated their way to Rome and eventually to Rockville with the advice of assorted Jewish account agencies.
It was ability shock. Not alone had Leon never apparent an American movie, but he didn’t allege a chat of English.
He was 40 years old.
The Jewish Social Casework Agency of Metropolitan Washington helped him get a job as a abstruse abettor at a high-tech firm, Fusion Systems Corporation. In his interview, Leon drew pictures because he couldn’t say what he knew. Asked about a assertive pump, for instance, he sketched out a circuitous engineering diagram that approved he accepted aggregate about it.
He confused up bound in the company, while acquirements English at night at a association college.
One black amid classes, Leon headed to the cafeteria automat machines for article to eat. It was a life-changing experience.
“I looked for bite apparatus and acquisition alone candied stuff,” he recalls. “I was ailing to my stomach. Why is there not a apparatus with absolute food? Why not a apparatus that sells hot dogs? Everyone brand hot dogs.”
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