The Tale of Two Burgers: The Beginning

cheeseburger take 2 day 1

March 23, 2010   14 Comments

After much analysis, Snack-Girl has decided to revamp her experiment with the McDonald's Cheeseburger. I doubt McDonald's cares, but I believe I was unfair to the global corporation.

If you have been following Snack-Girl then you have seen:

35 Day Old Cheeseburger

The idea was to buy a McDonald's Cheeseburger and leave it on my bookshelf. I had heard of a 4 year old burger - and I wanted to test if it was possible.

Why buy a fast-food burger to see if it would rot?
I wanted to test if this food is really FOOD. Why is that important? Some of us eat these products once a week, or every day, or multiple times a day and it contributes to our overall health as a nation.

From the beginning, I believed it would rot and so I didn't do a very scientific experiment. I am a trained scientist, and I knew that my experiment was kinda silly. BUT, I never expected the hamburger to do anything but rot.

Since my first post (McDonald's Cheeseburger), readers have been writing me about this idea. Many other people have done similar crazy things with McDonald's food and come up with the same results.

Here is one example of a one year old, Happy Meal - Happy Birthday!
Consumerist's Happy Meal

But, the two biggest complaints about my experiment were:

1. No control burger. How would a homemade hamburger do on a bookshelf at room temperature?

2. The humidity wasn't controlled. Obviously, if you leave something out and it dries up then it never gets a chance to rot.

I believe that the burger I purchased in January just dried up. Someone pointed out that archeologists have found food in Egyptian tombs that were just dried out and recognizable! I am sure my 35 day old burger would make it to 3010 in a tomb.

Because I am a SUPER GEEK, I decided to do a new experiment. Above, I have photographed a new McDonald's Cheeseburger and one that I made myself. They were both made on the same day.

My burger features ground meat from Stop-N-Shop, homemade bread, and Vermont cheddar cheese. I decided that I couldn't spend $8 a pound on organic beef just to throw it away. Doesn't it look so much tastier than the McDonald's burger?

In addition to the control burger, I am putting both burgers in Ziploc freezer bags at room temperature (about 68 degrees) to seal in moisture.

Here are the rules:

  1. Every Saturday, I will post a new photo of these cheeseburgers taken on the previous Friday.
  2. If these cheeseburgers do rot and smells bad, I'm tossing them! I will post their last photo for posterity.
  3. To my e-mail subscribers, I will not send you e-mails of the latest in the cheeseburgers' demise. You can just check for the Saturday post if you are interested. I will update my RSS, FaceBook, and Twitter Followers. Just ignore it if you are not interested.

I hope this will satisfy my critics and be fair to McDonald's.

What do you predict will happen?

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I love this experiment. I can't wait to follow along and see what happens.

on March 23, 2010

I do the same silly experiments (and stress a little about the lack of control group). I love that you do it too!.

on March 23, 2010

is this like the growing mold on food experiment from science class? well i am awaiting the results.

on March 23, 2010

It's not going to rot!

on March 23, 2010

Can't wait to see what happens!

on March 23, 2010

Go control burger!!! Control burger will definitely rot quickly in a bag.

It will be crazy if McD burger doesn't but seems that may be the outcome...

on March 23, 2010

I'm excited to see what happens!

on March 23, 2010

Love it!! Can't wait!

on March 23, 2010

I will be keeping an eye on this experiment!

Greetings from brazil!

Btw ,you should tweet it.

on March 24, 2010

it's a shame you didn't do a scientific experiment that actually deals with the real issues involved. i'm really disappointed. (see my post on day 11 for how badly you anti-geeked this)

on April 6, 2010

We are doing this experiment in my classroom after seeing your first experiment on day 11. My classes decided to include cheese burgers from our school cafeteria, Whataburger, Burger King, Jack in the Box, Wendy's, as well as a homemade cheese burger and a homemade vegan burger. So far, we are on day 29 and the Burger King, Whataburger and Jack in the Box are the only burgers that have not molded. I bought another Mc Donald's burger last week to see if it was just a fluke that it molded on day 9. Please email me, Ms. Snack Girl, if you are interested in our results.
Thanks for putting some excitement in our classroom,
Mrs. Bahe
Cibolo, TX

on May 11, 2010

I'm doing a research project about Food Additives for an english class and I was just wondering if I could mention you and your "Tale of Two Burgers" story in my speach. It would be greatly appreciated!

on October 16, 2010

I don't think I would ever eat a burger on homemade bread...I would use a store bought bun. This is not the greatest comparison because most people buy premade buns.

on January 8, 2012

Do you have any idea what a control is? A control burger would be a burger made exactly the same way as the McDonald's burger, using ingredients you knew were fresh. A McDonald's burger is not made on homemade bread and it does not have Vermont cheddar cheese. Your homemade burger patty is also substantially larger than the McDonald's burger, thus giving it a larger chance to grow.

It's not because it's not food that one rotted and one didn't. It's because you didn't do the experiment right.

on March 5, 2012

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