Travel Channel's "Food Wars" finally airs the Milwaukee episode tonight at 9, as Sobelman's and AJ Bombers face off over their burger skills.
You already know what some of the reactions will be:
- "Those two burger places aren't anywhere near as good as (fill in the blank)."
- "Burgers? Milwaukee's episode should be a battle of fish fries, or frozen custard, or bratwurst, or (fill in the blank)."
- "(Fill in the blank) was robbed! That other joint makes lousy burgers."
To avoid wasting too much time pondering these side issues, let's understand something from the get-go:
This is not a serious search for the best burger in Milwaukee. It's not an anthropological study of Milwaukee's unique food culture. It's a TV show.
"Food Wars" has a strict format: two local businesses making the same product battling it out to be the best. In this case, the TV story is that underdog AJ Bombers is taking on Sobelman's, the well-established burger king (no, not Burger King).
The story behind the TV story is a tale of two savvy guys who both put out good burgers every day. Dave Sobelman challenged Joe Sorge to start this thing off and Sorge, a master of social media, used Twitter to help jump start it.
Somebody will win the competition and bragging rights, and somebody will lose. But both Sobelman's and AJ Bombers will win. They've used the show to energize their own customer bases. The exposure will increase their visibility, which can't do anything but help business.
Besides, it's always nice to see a national TV show come to Milwaukee.
Here's a "Food Wars" video of host Camille Ford's visit to Sobelman's:
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Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.