1996 McDonalds Hamburger

I teach a workshop titled Healthy Choices for Children.  It’s a class for parents seeking solutions to how to improve the way they eat. It’s about the alternative food market, organics, and the top ten food additives to avoid and why, menu planning and more.  It’s a 3 session fabulously informative interactive class.

Below is my absolutely favorite prop.

People are always astounded when I share this.

I have used this as show and tell for a very long time.

This is a hamburger from McDonalds that I purchased in 1996.

That was 12 years ago.

Note that it looks exactly like it did the very day I bought it.

The flecks on the burger are crumbs from the bun.

The burger is starting to crumble a bit.

It has the oddest smell.

The paper and bag in the backround is circa 2008 – to add decor to the photo. My friend Robyn’s idea.

This is the retro welch’s grape juice plastic container I have always kept it in. People always ask me – what did you do to preserve it ?

Nothing – it preserved itself.

Ladies, Gentleman, and children alike – this is a chemical food. There is absolutely no nutrition here.

Not one ounce of food value.  Or at least value for why we are eating in the first place.

The burger on the right, off the paper is a 2008 burger.  I had to buy it to get the groovy paper and bag.

The meat is a tad darker, the bun a little less golden but in 12 years it will look exactly like that too.

Do you find this horrifying?

McDonalds fills an empty space in your belly. It does nothing to nourish the cell, it is not a nutritious food.

It is not a treat.

I marvel at how McDonalds has infiltrated our entire world. A hamburger here tastes exactly the same in China or some around the world place.

It’s cloned.

Makes you wonder doesn’t it?

Do me a favor and share this.

K a r e n     H a n r a h a n
Wellness Educator/Nutritional Consultant
Mentoring YOU to Health Success


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1,478 Responses to 1996 McDonalds Hamburger

  1. Paul says:

    Interesting set of comments that have come from this article. I enjoy going to McDonald’s on occasion – not every day or week, but maybe once a month or two. I haven’t had any problems with their food as I don’t expect much from them. I know the food is hight in everything bad for me, so I don’t go for the nutrition. McDonalds is a business, and they are very good at what they do.

    I also know that much of the food we buy is also not great for us. Think about all the fertilizers, chemicals, hormones, etc. that have been added to our everyday food and the fact that we probaby don’t get the same nutrition from our foods as we did 100 years ago.

    Let’s face it, people that live to be over 100 have rarely talked about how healthy they ate. They usually talk about stuff the average nutrionalist would probably avoid.

  2. Brendan says:

    Just finished reading “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan. He describes the plethora of processed foods that now account for the Western diet as “food-like substances.” A McDonald’s burger would certainly qualify. I’m lovin’ it!

  3. Mike Daley says:

    I tried to share this page on Facebook but there seems to be a bad bit of code on the page – I got an error message.

  4. SomeDude says:

    It makes me sad that you are celebrating the deception of children this way. You share your joy (w.r.t. Joe’s comments) about a brainwashed kid who now thinks a simple McDonanlds hamburger is so horrible.

    I understand that the name calling and some nastiness in these comments isn’t worth responding to. But what about the simple facts. You still have what you must now know to be erroneous information in this article. The nutritional value of a McDonalds hamburger, while easily beaten by other foods, is still substantial and you must know it.

    Promoting pseudo-science to children in this way is despicable. There are plenty of other relatively healthy foods that would petrify in this same way. It’s state of decomposition says nothing of it’s nutritional value. Why are you suggesting that it does? You are being dishonest. Reading through the comments I can see that you simply dismiss those that disagree with you and embrace those that do. You seem to care little for the truth. As I said, it’s sad.

  5. SomeDude says:

    Another point. There are many comments and references to “chemicals”. In a display of ignorance these people seem to forget that EVERYTHING is a chemical. I would not be surprised if these were the same people that would have us ban dihydrogen monoxide because they are too ignorant to know what it does for us.

    • Tom says:

      Wait a second, Dude – dihydrogen monoxide kills thousands of people every year. It’s corrosive, has an adverse effect on your skin if left on too long, and if you breathe too much of it, you die. What wrong with banning that?

  6. Skot Nelson says:

    > The nutritional value of a McDonalds hamburger,
    > while easily beaten by other foods, is still substantial
    > and you must know it.

    Ok.

    From Wikipedia:
    In 1999 in the United Kingdom three Court of Appeal judges ruled that a diet consisting of Big Macs and other high-fat McDonald products may lead to heart disease.

    The reference:
    http://tinyurl.com/37c7eet

  7. LaurieM says:

    I can’t believe that people get so riled up about their arguments. So snarky!

    I respect you for helping families realise that it’s worth the extra time and effort to put good foods into their bodies rather than running out for McDonalds without a second thought…I’m sure you’re making a lot of kids a lot healthier–not to mention easier to manage for their parents! It’s incredible how foods can affect behaviour!

    • annonymous says:

      I still prefer to educate people properly so while the original intent of this article was good, the delivery is horrible. I seriously have to question the credentials of the author. I certainly would not use this as a source of research. A true nutritionist or dietician in Canada would have a background in education on this field. I feel in North America now there are way to many people claiming to be a nutritionist or dietician. The facts of the article are all wrong which takes away the credibility of the original intent. In the end, like a true Essay, the audience is not convinced that McDonald’s is not a good supplement for real food. If the facts were correct, the audience would be convinced. For example, on a calorie to vitamin/mineral ratio, McDonald’s scores poorly. Same can be said about chips, soft drinks and even sometimes fruit juices. And of course back it up with facts derived from reputable sources. Sorry if this turned into an English lesson but I think most educated people would agree with me. I know my English would have, like he always said, keep it clear and forget the BS. In this case, the article is all BS and gets a grade of F. Forget the whole lack of decomposing, it has been pointed out that the lack of moisture in the product is what prevented mold from growing on it. Waste of web space and probably prevented people from doing real research or value of a real education in school. We are talking basic grade 10 chemistry here. The lack of mould should be common sense to the general public. Very disappointed in the whole thing.

  8. Everett says:

    Wow… this is an ignorant diatribe, now isn’t it? Seriously… First you say that the food has no nourishment then you say it is part of the reason for overconsumption? Is it making us fat or is it just an empty vessel that was filled with toxic chemicals?

    The fact that you ordered it with no ketchup, mustard, pickle, or onion says that you were planning this from the beginning. Knowing that a dry bun and patty is less likely to decompose is what I would have done to “make a point”… but I wouldn’t try to make a point this stupid. All you have shown is that keeping a dry food in a nearly air tight container in a cool place will preserve it… good show.

    Now, try some science and start over.

    All you managed to convince me to do is a scientific experiment to see if I can survive off of nothing but McDonald’s foods for an extended period. Judging by the nutritional info posted by other comments, I’d say that McDonald’s food-stuffs eaten in proper fashion should be sustaining… to say the least.

  9. JamesF says:

    My philosophy is, “If it tastes good, Then Eat it”

  10. Ray says:

    Oh dear, it looks like the McDonalds executives are defending the merchandise again. What’s unAmerican about disliking McDonalds and warning how bad it is for our health? The US has a fine tradition of exposing health hazards. McDonalds is a multinational company that sources it’s ingredients throughout the world and has long ceased to be a national company. Any misguided allegiance to junk food producers does a great disservice to the image and reputation of the US. I can think of much better things to promote than junk food.

  11. sfasf says:

    Your statements are untrue– there is nutritional value to these hamburgers. They are also jacked full of chemical preservatives and I’m certainly not claiming tht they are good for you, but at least tell the truth that there is nutritional value to them in the form of calories, vitamins, etc.

  12. Dario says:

    Whoa! Even the mold and fungus does not want to eat it!

  13. Chad says:

    Have you even been to another country? McDonalds in Korea tastes *alot* different (read: better) than in the USA. The same goes for Japan. Cloning? Really? This one is too easy so I’ll just leave it alone, it’s not really worth my time or effort as I’m sure you’re already set in your ways. It’s just sad that you’re influencing young children/parents with your false sense of “educational facts”.

  14. Someonewhocares says:

    I think most of you are missing the main point here. 12 year old good beef and grain turns to crap, I don’t care how you seal it. It might be a poorly articulated argument but it’s a hamburger… MCDs is nasty stuff. I’ll regrettably eat it when I am on a very tight time frame, and there is nothing better. I know people who eat it when their lazy, which is always. Get some initiate and cook some food.

  15. Alan says:

    Ha, this can’t be true?! In order to preserve something you would’ve had to placed this burger in an air tight container for 12 years without ever opening it! Think about it folks, each time you opened this container air and air particles/bacteria woould enter the container, each time you touched it you would transfer some type of bacteria onto the bun and meat, not to mention surface you put it on. It would be like opening up and resealing a bottle of wine. Once open, it is over! It would rot no matter what!

  16. Mike says:

    This is true.. I found a BurgerKing breakfast sandwich in the back of a car I bought, and it looked just like one bought that same day but was over a year old. It was hard as a rock but picture perfect, this is no myth or lie. I don’t see a picture of anything on this site though.

  17. Anna says:

    Are there any pictures in the post? It is just text for me.

  18. evelyn caro says:

    i can’t see the pictures anymore. i tried viewing them on google chrome and ie

  19. yamo says:

    buy 2x $1 cheeseburgers and 1x $1 side salad. Put half the salad on each cheeseburger and Voila! Salad that tastes good.

  20. Jane says:

    Is the image still available? Can’t see it…

  21. rid0617 says:

    Considering what this socialist President has done to the economy, those of us who are poor are thanking God we have any kind of food much less worrying about some dam fruit loop telling us what we should and should not eat.

  22. g-girl says:

    Karen I believe what you say is true. I’m no scientist. I am just a mom. I recently watched Super Size me and it made me sick. Food that don’t break down on it’s own, don’t break down in our digestive system correctly. That leads to future health problems.

  23. THIS Guy had is right. says:

    Okay people. Read your history. The meat is preserved not only because of chemical preservatives, but because of the oldest method of preserving meat: SALT. It inhibits mold growth and accelerates the loss of moisture in an open environment. To one person way above that said McDonald’s only uses Grade A beef: That means NOTHING. The USDA has three grades of beef fit for sale to humans(from lowest to highest) Select, Choice, and Prime. While ‘Super Size Me’ showed consumption at it’s most extreme, it wasn’t the fact that he GAINED so much weight during the month that surprised me. It was how long it took him to LOSE it, even on a macrobiotic diet regimen mixed with a good amount of exercise. And while your friend that works out all of the time and then eats four double cheeseburgers may LOOK healthy outwardly, I shudder to think of what his circulatory system looks like, although I do know people that eat horribly with seemingly no ill effects. Facts are facts folks. Since the rise of drive thru culture in the 1950′s combined with the shift to a service/office economy, Americans have become increasingly obese, with the current generation having a lower life expectancy than their parents for the first time since they started keeping statistics in the US. Do I eat fast food? Yes, once in a while. Can I delude myself into thinking that it’s either good for me or that a capitalist enterprise is looking out for my best interest? No. Freaking. Way.

  24. angela says:

    i only have to add a correction that the mcdonalds overseas DO NOT taste the same as the mcdonalds here in the US.

    still gross, though.

  25. M Beth says:

    In response to Davies’ project, McDonald’s spokeswoman Theresa Riley emailed The Upshot a statement defending the quality of the chain’s food. Riley’s email also blasted Davies’ “completely unsubstantiated” work as something out of “the realm of urban legends.”

    Hah, this CAN be true. In 1984, when I used to make this “choice”, the occassional partially eaten burger got left in the car, in Florida, in the heat, and the humidity. And managed to ‘preserve’ itself quite well until found a couple of weeks later, (yeh gross, kids..) Did anyone read this bit from McD’s spokeswoman Theresa Riley “Our hamburgers are cooked and prepared with salt, pepper and nothing else — no preservatives, no fillers. … and include common government-approved ingredients designed to assure food quality and safety. … Really, government approved, boy I feel better already. Same people allowing toxins from China and non-labeled ‘engineered’ food. PLEASE!

  26. Chuck Thompson says:

    Pics or it didn’t happen

  27. Mel says:

    I swore off fast food over 4 years ago and lost 30 pounds without even trying. I still like McD’s diet coke however so one time a few months into my fast food free diet I stopped there for a coke and since I was a little hungry I thought a cheeseburger wouldn’t hurt that much. I took three bites of it and threw it away. It was NASTY! I have no desire for that horrible alleged food anymore.

  28. sarah says:

    ya know something…I, as well as probably several others have been eating McDonalds since we had teeth! Nothing bad has happened yet. I agree that maybe it would not be such a good idea to have McDonalds everyday but every now and then is just fine. STOP BEING AN ALARMIST and go eat your Kashi. In the meantime, I will enjoy my big mac.

  29. leonardo says:

    i love mcdonalds shut up mcdonalds is good and to let you know my foo had mold in 7 hours and was hard
    not 8 months or 12 years 7 hours i wat it takes you fag

  30. leonardo says:

    i love mcdonalds shut up mcdonalds is good and to let you know my foo had mold in 7 hours and was hard
    not 8 months or 12 years 7 hours i wat it takes you fag……………….

  31. Ronald McDonald says:

    I have watched my partner eat nothing but Skittles and subway subs and he never ever poops..
    what is up with that??

  32. Dr. Henry Gray says:

    Hello Karen

  33. annonymous says:

    I still prefer to educate people properly so while the original intent of this article was good, the delivery is horrible. I seriously have to question the credentials of the author. I certainly would not use this as a source of research. A true nutritionist or dietician in Canada would have a background in education on this field. I feel in North America now there are way to many people claiming to be a nutritionist or dietician. The facts of the article are all wrong which takes away the credibility of the original intent. In the end, like a true Essay, the audience is not convinced that McDonald’s is not a good supplement for real food. If the facts were correct, the audience would be convinced. A better statement would have been, on a calorie to vitamin/mineral ratio, McDonald’s scores poorly. Same can be said about chips, soft drinks and even sometimes fruit juices. And of course back it up with facts derived from reputable sources. Sorry if this turned into an English lesson but I think most educated people would agree with me. I know my English teacher would have, like he always said, keep it clear and forget the BS. In this case, the article is all BS and gets a grade of F. Forget the whole lack of decomposing, it has been pointed out that the lack of moisture in the product is what prevented mold from growing on it. Waste of web space and probably prevented people from doing real research or value of a real education in school. We are talking basic grade 10 chemistry here. The lack of mould should be common sense to the general public. Very disappointed in the whole thing.

  34. Jeff says:

    WOW! I’m starving… Now I don’t feel pressured to eat my Happy Meals right away… I can put the leftovers away for a rainy day 🙂

  35. Magdalena says:

    That is freaky. Still, that won’t stop me from enjoying a Big Mac now and then 🙂

  36. I’ve seen pictures like this before and still find it hard to believe until I eat a McD’s hamburger (yuck) which luckily hasn’t been for a very long time. Hopefully our 2 yr old who’s never eaten McDonalds food will get through a few more years before being exposed to it.

  37. victor says:

    lol so many comments
    it looks freaky…

  38. sundrop2204 says:

    I may be no chemistry experts but I really would like to hear what Karen has to say about what “This Guy has is Right” and “anonymous” said. I agree that the original intent of this article is good, but the delivery and presentation is very mis-representative of the truth! Basically, where are your facts and based on what sort of scientific research are you claiming this burger has no nutritive value?
    Like what “This Guy has is Right” says –SALT inhibits mould growth and accelerates the loss of moisture in an open environment. So if that were true, it would be seriously erroneous of you to be promoting the “evils” of McD just entirely based on that the burgers can’t decompose! EVERYONE knows that McD aren’t angels in the nutrition department. After reading this, I am very disappointed, and seriously am expecting more back-up research on this from you Karen.

  39. Philipp v. Melle says:

    Hey, good idea! I´ll just start and get a burger, too, in case some friends step in…

  40. OMG! Seriously I’m never eating that garbage again. Thanks for posting this. I shared it on FB.

  41. In my opinion Mcdonalds produces the finest burger the world has seen, they have developed the process and procedures for this burger over the last 50 or more years and its no wonder its the worlds most sold burger.

    Would you all prefer it is the burger went mouldy after 3 hours?

    i am currently in india and can tell you that taste does not truimph over cleaniness.

    the more you scruninise it the better it will get. and what exactly is it ? it a fast food that taste good that consumers demand. ill be eating them now and then until i die and so will most people. sometimes you should just think of it in terms of what a great sucess it is.

    I love you mcdonalds, keep up the good work.

    • Blip says:

      You have never eaten an In-n-Out Burger. Those things taste great. They are consistent. They are a great value. And they are made using fresh ingredients with minimal processing by well-paid employees.

      • Blip says:

        Another good burger is the one you make yourself, toss some crumbled blue cheese, Lea and Perrins, and some coarse salt into the meat before grilling, add some sauteed onions and mushrooms, a thick slab of tomato from your garden, put it in a bun…. and you got a pretty darn tasty burger.

  42. richie says:

    What a bunch of limp dick liberals. The ground beef in a McDonalds burger is no different than the ground beef you buy at your local store.

    Wake up idiots and get a life without whinig

  43. d'Artagnan says:

    In fact, not all McDonald’s are created equal. I had the misfortune of visiting one in Mexico City while I was traveling with a group from my high school in 1996 and everything was absolutely horrid. The buns were dry and stale and the meat was dry, cold and over-seasoned (as is customary). Before I stopped eating there years ago I experienced notable inconsistencies across the country.

    Laptop repair guy/McDonald’s fanboy, if going moldy after 3 hours means that it is a better product, then yes, I’d take it in a heartbeat. Have you ever noticed how natural foods go bad sooner than their GMO-modified/preservative-laden equivalents? That is the way things are supposed to be. I had hoped you would reveal that you were only joking when you said that you thought McD’s makes the finest burger in the world but perhaps not surprisingly you kept a straight face. You can keep your zombie-made processed food product. I’ll continue enjoying hand-made charcoal-grilled burgers made by myself and other caring chefs that blow all fast food burgers away every time.

  44. Neil Roy says:

    Where are the rest of the ingredients for that burger? Sorry, any burger I buy there has lettuce, special sauce, cheese, tomatoes… oh that’s right, she probably made sure the burger and buns were as clean and sterile as possible before she stored it in a clean container in a refrigerator where it was certain to remain relatively unchanged. She acts like she bought a burger and left it out on the counter as is for 12 years as is and it didn’t change a bit. Look at it, I mean CLOSELY, it’s a hamburger patty and a fricken BUN with NOTHING else on it, not even a trace that anything ever was on it!!! How many burgers from McDonalds have you seen that look JUST like that?? NONE. I challenge anyone to buy a burger from there and LEAVE IT OUT on your counter for a few years JUST as you bought it, and see if something doesn’t start to stink before a month goes by. I’ll continue to eat at McDonalds, the food is good, the prices are cheap and they donate to several good charities. Don’t like ’em? Don’T Eat there!!!

  45. Neil Roy says:

    As for nutritional value, the burgers I eat there have lettuce, tomatoes, sauce which has nutritional elements and since when is meat not nutritional? Heck, the bread in the bun is made from wheat.

  46. anon says:

    ah the internet, a billion whiny hippie degenerates and growing. if you dont like it, dont eat it, then shut up about it. Its not a sin to sell a shitty hamburger.

  47. Asa Downing says:

    Now I feel a lot better for eating this plate full of deviled eggs! 🙂

  48. Invisible_Jester25 says:

    Okay… Calories. A McDonald’s burger DOES have calories. Any time you have calories you are fueling your body. The problem comes when you are getting too much fat, sodium, or no nutrients for those calories. That’s why this is “junk food”.

    The probable reason for this burger not rotting for 12 years? The incredible load of salt McDonald’s puts in all their food, as all fast food places do.

    It’s not the calories you need to worry about. It’s the portions. One McDonald’s hamburger is relatively safe as long as you get just the burger and maybe a small value fry, but when you start going for the Angus double beef bacon deluxe or the Big Mac, with a large fry and a large drink, THEN you’re asking for it. You want my advice? Skip the fries, get small sodas, buy white meat options or grilled chicken, and stick with the dollar menu.

  49. I was thinking what will happen to a McDonald’s hamburger if it is left untouched in a hot and humid environment. Will the result turn out to be the same?

  50. Journalist Leith in the Guardian today tried to defend McDonalds and explain away the reasons for this anti-aging. He tries to blame our obesity epidemic on ‘greed’. What a joke. Check this out:
    http://www.burgerclubla.com/2010/10/guardian-journalist-leith-says-dont.html

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