Burger-philes trust George Motz's tips on where to find primo patties in all 50 states. The filmmaker behind 2005's documentary, "Hamburger America," and the travel guide brings his appetite to the Travel Channel with "Made in America" (airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m.). The series trails Motz to 39 U.S. factories.
Q: How did you choose the companies featured in "Made in America"?
A: We were trying to find stuff that was iconic, fun to make and fun to see on camera. ... We included everything from Jelly Belly jelly beans to GE aircraft!
Q: Is there any characteristic these products have in common, aside from just being made in the U.S.?
A: Some of them actually can't be made anywhere else but in America. That's a weird common denominator. For example, Tabasco: A lot of flavor comes from the peppers the company grows, but also from the Avery Island, La., salt they use to age the peppers. Jack Daniel's is all about the water. The Jack Daniel's distillery (in Lynchburg, Tenn.) actually sits right on top of an aquifer that has some qualities that make great whiskey.
Q: What surprised you about the food companies you looked at?
A: I learned that Tabasco is aged for three years in whiskey barrels; that was amazing. The Jelly Belly factory is the loudest place. It's got all these hard candies spinning around in all these sugar drums -- you've got 50 in a room. It's ear-shattering. And Ghirardelli Chocolates! You'd think those are made overseas because of the name, but they've been made in America (in San Francisco) for over 150 years.
Q: Did you want to feature burger-related companies?
A: No, because we're actually working on a whole separate, hamburger-based show for the Travel Channel.
Q: Why are burgers so popular lately?
A: It's the economy. It's cheap and easy to open a hamburger joint, cheaper than other types of restaurants.