Mummified McDonald’s

Mummified McDonald's

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,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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5 Responses to “Mummified McDonald’s”

  1. L A Cochran Says:

    So, mummifiable meat is better for you than rotting meat? Huh.

  2. Mike Licht Says:

    L A Cochran wrote: So, mummifiable meat is better for you than rotting meat?

    Probably. But lack of rot was said to be proof that McDonald’s food is unnatural, full of synthetics and preservatives. Thin patties and pieces of meat don’t rot, they dry. All meat will dry out, it’s natural. Humans have been preserving meat that way for millennia.

    Dry old burgers don’t taste too good, though. If you want to eat old meat, use a pemmican recipe.

  3. Monica Hughes Says:

    Now people are saying that the fries won’t rot.

    Here’s my 17 day experiment on the fries.

  4. Joey Says:

    Salt is a preservative, why does anyone indulge these paranoid petit-bourgois fantasies that big corporations make evil food? McDonalds makes a tasty burger, and there is no refuting this fact.

  5. Mike Licht Says:

    Joey wrote: Salt is a preservative

    So is formaldehyde; you probably don’t want to eat much of that, either. Seriously, there’s too much salt in the burgers, and there’s too much fat in the fries. That’s why many people are down on McD’s.

    McDonalds makes a tasty burger

    We love salt; we love fat. That doesn’t mean it’s good for us.

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