By EW Staff
Updated September 24, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

Jeffrey Tennyson believes that a good burger should by synergistic. ”Everything melts together. You get most of it in your mouth and the rest ! ends up in your lap or on a bunch of napkins.” Furthermore, an excellent patty demands three to four napkins, and the politically correct ketchup choice is Heinz. You can trust Tennyson on this-he’s just spent 16 years of his life amassing the makings of Hamburger Heaven: The Illustrated History of the Hamburger (Hyperion, $29.95)-a 128-page tome that includes photos of his 2,000-piece burger-memorabilia collection and burger buildings nationwide, a list of the country’s best burger joints, and the perfect burger recipe. (Hint: Flip once, and never flatten with a spatula.) A freelance art director and designer who grew up in Niles, Mich., Tennyson, 41, has unearthed some meaty stuff in his research: The average American eats 30 pounds of hamburger a year; the first Ronald McDonald was weatherman Willard Scott; and Wendy’s, serving what Tennyson considers the best fast-food burger, opens a new franchise every 16 hours. Much of his memorabilia collection can be viewed at his newly opened Hamburger Hall of Fame in Seymour, Wis., where he was recently named Burger King for a day. ”I was just grand marshal at their Burgerfest parade,” says Tennyson. ”They put me in a ’57 Fairlane and I was riding around blessing people with my burger scepter. It was wild.”