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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

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In Movies & TV Commentary

AJ Bombers' Barrie Burger will get its place in the spotlight on the upcoming "The United States of Bacon."

In Movies & TV Commentary

The Destination America program will also feature the Madison AJ Bombers' Mad 'Sconnie burger.

Everything is better with bacon: Here's the proof


Those TV viewers who let their taste buds control the remote know food programming is a big deal. With different food channels, multiple shows about food on travel networks and other spots on the dial, this sort of programming commands large audiences.

For a local establishment, national exposure can be a boon for business and great exposure for Milwaukee.

Joe Sorge knows this first-hand. His eatery, AJ Bombers, appeared on "Food Wars" in October 2010, and the business still benefits from the airing.

"Frankly, we were surprised by how many people would see it," Sorge said. "Here we are, approaching two years since the airing, and we still get people who come in for the first time saying it was because of the show."

AJ Bombers, now known for its burgers, will get another chance in the spotlight with "The United States of Bacon," a show produced for Discovery that will appear on the Destination America channel this winter. The crew will be filming at the restaurant during lunch Tuesday, Oct. 9.

"When the crew was here before (in 2010), they remembered the Barrie Burger when they were filming," Sorge said.

The cheeseburger features bacon and peanut butter, and was inspired by patron Katie Barrie.

"They were looking for places that feature bacon in a unique way," Sorge said. "And they remembered the peanut butter burger."

Sorge also talked to producers of the Madison AJ Bombers' pride and joy, the award-winning Mad 'Sconnie. This burger starts at the bun, made from Stella's Bakery spicy cheese bread. The patty is a mix of grass-fed beef and bacon, making it pretty different than the other fare available.

"I think they liked that we locally sourced this, as we buy the whole hog," Sorge explained, saying that his Smoke Shack eatery uses most of the pork for its offerings, and then the bellies are used for the bacon at both AJ Bombers locations.

The next season of "The United States of Bacon" fires up Dec. 29, and the episode featuring the two bacon-themed burgers from AJ Bombers will appear in the first couple months of the run.

"It is really good for Milwaukee as a whole," Sorge said. "This area is kind of being discovered, and it's great to be a part of that new Milwaukee."

Sorge said that there's a whole energy that is created in a restaurant when it is in the national spotlight that adds to the atmosphere of the place. And on Oct. 9, the public has the chance to be a part of it.

"They shoot with us in the kitchen, and then they talk with us for a couple of segments," Sorge said. "But a lot of this show is the interviews with the people who eat this great food. We are back on national TV and are happy to be a part of it."

DEBATES: On Wednesday, Mitt Romney will debate with Barack Obama in the first of a series of televised debates. Local stations, as well as a number of national outlets, will air the event and offer analysis. ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and Fox Business Network will all have coverage, starting in earnest around 7 p.m.

ECONOMY: Because the economy is such a large player in this presidential cycle, it is interesting to watch the ratings of the channels that focus on the world of business. Market Watch is reporting that Lou Dobbs, formerly of CNN and now on FOX Business Network, has passed "The Kudlow Report" on CNBC in the ratings among 25-54-year-olds in the third quarter. I'll leave it up to you if this can be used as an early predictor of how the election will end up in November.


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