Guest Blogger: Mary Hunt – The Burger Becomes Curriculum

Mary Hunt is an author, thought leader, co-founder of In Woman We Trust, speaker and a champion of woman changing the world!  

I adore her style, tenacity,intensity and her wonderful way with words. Nobody says things like Mary!  Thanks for this perspective on “The Burger!”

This is a story about the cultural chicken or the egg — what starts culture and what makes it grow?

A few years back, IWWT Speaker Karen Hanrahan wrote a blog post about a 12-year old McDonald’s hamburger. This week she noticed that it was picked up and used as part of a college course syllabus at the University of Toronto called: The Cool Culture Soul Machine: The Anthropology of Everyday Life .

The post is the first course of a meaty discussion and prompts a bigger question — do schools start the conversations or are they a reflection of a society fueled by writings? Without Karen freely blogging about her experience, we would not have known her story and then only course-approved books would shape the students thoughts.

McDonald’s spends millions advertising their burgers. Karen spent her time and gained over a million readers. Which affects the culture more? We don’t know the answer to that, but we do know that if individuals don’t use their right to post and push conversations that only the corporate message will be heard and that’s not cool.


Hanrahan, Karen. 2008, “1996 McDonald’s Hamburger.”  The Best of Mother Earth. 

Agence France-Presse. 2010. “The indestructible McDonald’s burger,” Oct. 15, 2010.

Danesi, Marcel. 2007. “Food,” pp. 151-60, in The Quest for Meaning. Toronto: Univ. of Toronto. [On reserve. To post on Blackboard.]

Clark, Dylan. 2002. “The Hamburger.” St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. 

Kelley, Robin D. G. 1996. “OGs in Post-Industrial Los Angeles,” excerpt from “Writing Black Working Class History from Way Way Below,” Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class.  (As reprinted in Duncombe, Stephen. 2002.  Cultural Resistance Reader. NY: Verso, pp. 96-9). To post on Blackboard.

Ehrenreich, Barbara. 2001. “Serving in Florida,” excerpt from Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. NY: Metropolitan Books.

Pawlick, Thomas. 2009. “Chapter 1: A Different Kind of Great Dying,” excerpt from The War in the Country: How the Fight to Save Rural Life Will Shape Our Future.  Vancouver: Greystone Books.

Film for  class:

InformInc. 2010. “The Secret Life of Beef.”  NY: InformInc. (about 6 minutes)

Possible film excerpt during class:

“The Meatrix”

“The Future of Food.”

Kenner, Robert. 2008. “Food, Inc.” LA: Magnolia Pictures.

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