McDonald’s Burger Lasts 14 Years (Just Like All Burgers)

A McDonald's hamburger has been in a man's car trunk since 1999. It still looks and smells the same as the day he bought it, minus the pickle.

A McDonald’s hamburger has been in a man’s car trunk since 1999. It still looks and smells the same as the day he bought it, minus the pickle.

UPI (“McDonald’s burger survives 14 years without deteriorating“):

A Utah man said a McDonald’s burger he bought to use as a demonstration item in 1999 has shown few signs of aging in 14 years.

David Whipple of St. George said he bought the hamburger — topped with a pickle, mustard and ketchup — July 7, 1999, at a McDonald’s in Logan and let it age for a month for a lesson on enzymatic action he gave to a group of weight loss advocates, KSL-TV, Salt Lake City, reported Wednesday.

“At the little meeting, I showed the hamburger and the pickle, which was just starting to disintegrate,” Whipple writes. “There was no decomposition to the meat or bun, nor any mold, fungus or smell. It had no bad odor at all.”

Whipple said he put the burger in his jacket pocket, where it spent a summer in the trunk of his car before being discovered in a closet a year or two later.

“It was purely a fluke about hanging on to it,” Whipple said.

Whipple said the burger has since survived without refrigeration or any other types of preservation and still looks like it did the day he bought it, sans pickle.

If mold won’t grow on it, it’s not food.

via Doctrine Man

UPDATE: For those who don’t read the comments section, it turns out that this story has been going around for quite some time and has been roundly debunked. Or, should I say, it’s completely true but the conclusions most of us have drawn are untrue.

J. Kenji López-Alt does a very detailed takedown. The whole analysis is worth reading but here’s the upshot:

[T]he burger doesn’t rot because it’s small size and relatively large surface area help it to lose moisture very fast. Without moisture, there’s no mold or bacterial growth. Of course, that the meat is pretty much sterile to begin with due to the high cooking temperature helps things along as well. It’s not really surprising. Humans have known about this phenomenon for thousands of years. After all, how do you think beef jerky is made?

Now don’t get me wrong—I don’t have a dog in this fight either way. I really couldn’t care less whether or not the McDonald’s burger rotted or didn’t. I don’t often eat their burgers, and will continue to not often eat their burgers. My problem is not with McDonald’s. My problem is with bad science.

Incidentally, a Quarter Pounder and other McDonald’s burgers with larger patties will, indeed rot.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. JoshB says:

    I eat McDonald’s maybe two or three times a year, and that is only when suffering the wrath of too much gin the night before. This makes me question my decision-making abilities (of breakfast, not gin).

  2. JoeL says:
  3. Hal 10000 says:

    What JoeL said. This is a long-running scare story that ignores how food rots. Also, a lot of work was done on the late William Rathje on his garbage project that showed that food sitting in landfills often doesn’t rot for many years.

  4. grumpy realist says:

    I realized that there was something dreadfully wrong with Chicken McNuggets when my dog refused to eat them. And this is a dog that would inhale Arby’s sandwiches and Wendy’s hamburgers by the ton.

  5. Dustin says:

    “If mold won’t grow on it, it’s not food.”

    No, if mold won’t grow, it’s because there isn’t moisture for it. Is beef jerky not food?

    The fact is, the burgers are thin and dehydrate to fast for mold to grow. You would have the same results with any hamburger if you cooked it that thin and left it in the open air.

  6. SKI says:

    @JoeL: Exactly. Kenji tweeted about this just a few days ago.