McDonalds and Zombie Factoids

It’s almost Halloween! Time for some scaaaary zombies!
Surprisingly, Night of the Living Dead is public domain
Or zombie factoids.

Now, you might wonder why I’m defending McDonald’s on a pro-HAES, fat acceptance blog. But A) even though we know here that there isn’t as much of a link between fast food consumption and BMI as people think, the fact is that many people do use fat to attack fast food and fast food to attack fat people; B) this kind of stuff is interesting to me; and C) someone is wrong on the internet.

McDonald’s is trying to debunk the myth that their food does not decompose. Jezebel points out how, out of context, it’s funny that a company would be talking about their food rotting as a selling point. Indeed. But then the Jezebel writer, C.A. Pinkham, makes a little non-joke joke:

It’s worth noting that McDonald’s has tried to defend their food’s adherence to the laws of the 4th dimension before. In 2012, they posted on their Canadian website that “hamburgers, french fries and chicken are like all foods, and do rot if kept under certain conditions.” I’d write a joke in response to the fact that they had to include “if kept under certain conditions” (probably for legal reasons), but we both know I don’t need to.

The problem is, ‘under certain conditions’ is true, not just of McDonald’s foods, but all foods. Now, there are some obvious examples of conditions under which a food would not rot, like inside a freezer or in an airless vacuum. In fact, there is a certain amount of truth to “a McDonald’s burger doesn’t rot”–because (as Serious Eats found) when left in a typical room, exposed to air, a McDonald’s hamburger doesn’t rot… but neither does a homemade hamburger of similar size and shape. But a McDonald’s quarter-pounder–or a homemade hamburger of similar size and shape–DOES rot. It’s because McDonald’s hamburgers are small and thin. They dry out too quickly for the microorganisms to gain much of a foothold. No moisture, no microorganism growth. (There isn’t literally NO moisture, so there may still be a small amount of microorganism growth, but not enough to cause the burger to visibly decompose.)

As Serious Eats’ J Kenji López-Alt said, “Humans have known about this phenomenon for thousands of years. After all, how do you think beef jerky is made?” (This is also why sugar and salt preserve food; they make water less available.)

I was sort of hoping this Men’s Fitness article, “The Zombie Fast Food Hamburger”, to be about the zombie factoid instead of the hamburger itself being the “zombie”. Oh, well. But I did find a pretty funny quote there:

The burger, which should have fallen victim to all sorts of decay and nastiness after all that time, was still perfectly intact. The bun had dried and the patty and cheese had shriveled, but it otherwise looked exactly the same as it did when she ordered in a year ago.

So… other than the ways it looked different, it looked exactly the same? Also, note how the hamburger is dried–no water, no microorganism growth!

The nutritionist profiled in the Men’s Health article, Melanie Hesketh, left the hamburger on the counter in part to make fast food unappealing to her children. I bet if you left pretty much any food that wasn’t shelf-stable out on the counter, whether it rotted or simply dried up, seeing that food in less-than-peak condition on the counter every day would make even the fresh version of that food unappealing.

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One Response to McDonalds and Zombie Factoids

  1. Mich says:


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