Because Harvard is on the case and they've invented a cheap, foolproof smoker. And apparently paying a couple of thousand dollars for your cheap, foolproof smoker designed by Harvard engineering grads is a good deal.
The New York Times has the story, but I got the hero pars right here:
Mr. Parker came up with the idea for the smoker project at a cooking contest in a Memphis parking lot before a college football game. He was stunned by the smokers he saw. “I mean, just piles of metal junk,” is how he described them. “Trash cans with smokestacks. It was offensive to an engineer.”
When the semester began, only two of the 16 students in the class had smoked meat before, two were vegetarians and five were from abroad and did not know what American-style barbecue was.
They began by analyzing smokers on the market, focusing on Big Green Egg, a popular one with a ceramic cooking chamber. They evaluated the extra-large version, which costs $1,200. “We went through the patent of the Big Green Egg and just completely dissected it,” Mr. Parker said. “Where’s the opportunity here? Where’s the weakness here?”
They built computer models of Big Green Egg, of the brisket and, eventually, of their own smoker. They ran hundreds of computer simulations, and they learned that maintaining a precise, steady cooking temperature is crucial to evenly breaking down the meat’s collagen, tenderizing it. Several students spent their spring break taking a crash course in ceramics at the Harvard Ceramic Studio to build two prototypes of the smoker.
I don't know of anybody in Australia who goes to the sorts of lengths for a barbecue fix. I did know a bloke in Canberra used to marinate his prawns for an hour or so before burning them on the grill, and there's always some idiot who insists on upending his beer all over the meat while it's on the flame. But I don't know of anybody who's commissioned research and development like this.
I just don't know that we have the patience. This idea that you stand by the barbecue, or the smoker I guess, and lovingly tend the meat for 12 to 14 hours seems… excessive. Don't get me wrong, I accept that the final product is undeniably superior, but by the time I've got four or five beers under my belt I really just want a burned snag, a slice of white bread and another four or five beers.