"Alan goes to Korea, where we have some big orders coming through," Ron explained recently over lunch--a hamburger, medium-well, with fries--in the V.I.P. booth by the door in the Polo Lounge, at the Beverly Hills Hotel. "I call Alan on the phone. I wake him up. It was two in the morning there. And these are my exact words: `Stop. Do not pursue the bread-and-batter machine. I will pick it up later. This other project needs to come first.' " The other project, his inspiration, was a device capable of smoking meats indoors without creating odors that can suffuse the air and permeate furniture. Ron had a version of the indoor smoker on his porch--"a Rube Goldberg kind of thing" that he'd worked on a year earlier--and, on a whim, he cooked a chicken in it. "That chicken was so good that I said to myself"--and with his left hand Ron began to pound on the table--"This is the best chicken sandwich I have ever had in my life." He turned to me: "How many times have you had a smoked-turkey sandwich? Maybe you have a smoked- turkey or a smoked-chicken sandwich once every six months. Once! How many times have you had smoked salmon? Aah. More. I'm going to say you come across smoked salmon as an hors d'oeuvre or an entrée once every three months. Baby-back ribs? Depends on which restaurant you order ribs at. Smoked sausage, same thing. You touch on smoked food"--he leaned in and poked my arm for emphasis--"but I know one thing, Malcolm. You don't have a smoker."
- Malcolm Gladwell, "The Pitchman." The New Yorker, October 30, 2000