New York photographer Sallie Davies put the hamburger from a McDonald’s Happy Meal® on her windowsill on April 10th and started taking pictures of it. After six months it was a little smaller and darker but it did not rot.
In the ensuing uproar, edibles archeologists discovered a 12-year-old McDonald’s hamburger and a 21-year-old burger. The implied or overt claims of the fossil fast food curators, that over-processing and drugs or preservatives halted the hamburgers’ decay, was emphatically denied by McDonald’s.
Empirical evidence indicates Mickey D’s is right. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt at Serious Eats conducted a home-brew experiment using differently sourced burgers of similar dimensions and concluded that regular-size burgers don’t rot, they dehydrate or desiccate. The high ratio of surface area to mass allows the meat to dry out and mummify instead of rotting. Gizmodo’s Kyle VanHemert has a readable summary of the mummified meat memorandum; so does Samantha Storey at the Times. The original account of the experiment is here.
Image (“Pharaoh Seti I Offering a Burger to the Gods”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com
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