Happy Birthday to My Happy Meal

By Nonna Joann • Mar 3rd, 2010 • Category: Spoonful of Love

Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You.

Happy Birthday, Dear Happy Meal, Happy Birthday to You!

Happy MealI know it’s hard to believe. Time flies, doesn’t it? My eyes tear when I think today, March 3, is my Happy Meal’s first birthday. They grow up so fast, don’t they?

I purchased a Happy Meal, not to eat, but to observe and blog about. Yes, I bought a Happy Meal and then placed it on my office shelf, right behind me and my computer. It sat on my shelf for a year as a silent witness to our fast food industry.

It smelled delicious for a few days. I’d get a whiff of those yummy French fries every time I walked into my office. After a week or so, you could hardly smell it. My husband worried that when the food began to decompose, there would be a terrible odor in our home. He also worried the food would attract ants and mice. He questioned my sanity.

No Worries
NOPE, no worries at all. My Happy Meal is one year old today and it looks pretty good. It NEVER smelled bad. The food did NOT decompose. It did NOT get moldy, at all.

This morning, I took it off my shelf to take a birthday photo. The first year is always a milestone. I gave it one of my world famous nonna hugs as we’ve been office mates for a year now! (Okay, maybe my sanity is in question.)

What’s WRONG with this picture?
The photo above on the left is the one I took today. Because Colorado has an arid climate, over the year the moisture has been slowly pulled from the Happy Meal. The bread is crusty and if you look closely, you will see a crack across the top. The hamburger has shrunk a bit and still resembles a hockey puck. Yet, the French fries look yummy enough to eat. I never had an odor problem, after a couple of weeks, I couldn’t even smell the fries.

Now look at the photo on the right, I took it a year ago. Not much difference. The bread is plumper and the fries a tad bit perkier.

What’s not HAPPY about a Happy Meal?
Picky eaters universally love junk foods. They won’t touch veggies and sometimes refuse to eat the food their moms prepare. Out of desperation, parents give in and purchase the food their picky eaters will eat…junk food.

The next time you’re tempted to purchase a Happy Meal for your child, think about these photos. Food is SUPPOSED to decompose, go bad and smell foul…eventually.  When I was a kid, I remember our garbage pail for the left over food scraps was kept by our back door. After a couple of days, flies deposited their larvae (maggots) in the meat. When I would lift the lid, I would see the recently hatched maggots wiggling on the putrid mess. A fly never bothered to land on the tiny hamburger patty on my office shelf.

Food is broken down into it’s essential nutrients in our bodies and turned into fuel. Our children grow strong bodies, when they eat real food. Flies ignore a Happy Meal and microbes don’t decompose it, then your child’s body can’t properly metabolize it either. Now you know why it’s called “junk food.”

I think ants, mice and flies are smarter than people, because they weren’t fooled. They never touched the Happy Meal. Children shouldn’t either.

Read Nonna’s Happy Meal Blog, CLICK HERE.

Baby BitesCLICK HERE for ordering information for Baby Bites: Transforming a Picky Eater into a Healthy Eater and The Forest Feast: Baby Bites Mealtime Adventures.

For info about the free Baby Bites Ezine, CLICK HERE.

Share and Enjoy:
  • e-mail
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
Tags: , , , ,

89 comments on »

  1. Happy Birthday to My Happy Meal posting went viral with multiple blogs and news sites picking it up. The Baby Bites’ site is having a hard time handling all the hits. We are working on this issue. If you experience difficulty on the site or do not see your comment posted, please check back. Blessings, Nonna Joann :)

  2. I inadvertently ran a similar experiment with a Lunchable. My kindergartener begged me for Lunchables like her friends, so I bought one and dumped the contents so I could use the container to pack a “custom” Lunchable. I kept the bread rounds from the original lunch for measuring purposes. I didn’t intend to hold on to them for long, but there they sat on the top of my microwave for months. I was in awe of how they continued to look the same week after week. Where was the mold? Eventually I think my husband got bored with my experiment and dumped them because they disappeared, but I tell that story to anybody who will listen. If food doesn’t break down naturally on the shelf, how in the world does anybody think it’s going to decompose in their child’s stomach?

  3. Although my kids have never had a Happy Meal, they still ask about them and why they are so bad for you.
    I showed them this photo at breakfast. We all got this on such a deeper level with this visual.
    Thanks Nona!

    Peace & Be Well,

  4. I did this experiment on accident, my daughter left a icecream cone (From D.Q.) in her closet, she ate a few bites and left it in there for over two weeks, when I was hanging up some clothes in her room I looked to left when I noticed a perfect looking unmelted icecream cone. I should of took a photo of it, I was shocked when I knew how long it had been there. It got a bit smaller in shape, but there was no smell, or messy clean up, it just stayed in the cone – unmelted . I never forgot that and I always wondered why it didn’t melt.

  5. If it doesn’t decompose then what nutrients can be extracted from it? The published nutritional value for McDonald’s food seems like it would be more theoretical than actual…

  6. Such a simple but brilliant experiment. Thanks so much for posting about this.

  7. Wow. Just wow. That is strange and frightening. Thank goodness my children are not devoted to fast food:



  8. I would be interested what a home-made burger and fries would look like after a year.
    Michael, Food should decompose. Within days mold should be visible. Maggots usually can be found in rotten meat. In short order, without refrigeration the food should look pretty yucky.
    Nonna Joann

  9. I had some trouble determining which photo was the 1 year anniversary. Its hard to believe that it did not mold up at all. I wonder what they put in that stuff!

  10. In a dry climate food will have trouble decomposing, especially when left in a paper sack which will soak up any excess moisture. If you live in a dry climate, of course the meal isn’t going to mold how you think it is, there’s little moisture to allow it to.
    Charlotte, Yes, that’s true. The dry air will delay decomposition of the food. But you’d expect something. The fries and hamburger were placed in a baggie for their first show and tell. So they were no longer saved in paper. Blessings, Nonna Joann

  11. This rocks! Thanks for taking the time to babysit and post.

  12. Sorry to burst your bubble everyone, but this is a worthless test. Go cook a USDA prime filet mignon and let it sit on a plate indoors for a year, and it’s not going to rot because it DRIED OUT. Set it outside, and it will rot.

    Common sense…this test is 100% worthless and furthermore, extremely misleading.

    Seriously, try it with a prime cut of beef if you don’t believe me. Anything that is allowed to dry and remain in an indoor, dry environment will have the same result. There are valid reasons to avoid fast food restaurants, but this is not one of them.

  13. Okay, I know the climate played a part in my Happy Meal’s preservation. I’m well aware that this was not a scientific study. I did NOT call it an experiment. I saved the Happy Meal to observe and blog about. Which I did. I recorded my opinions.
    You might want to take a look at these McDonald French fries which were placed in a sealed jar. It’s amazing that after 461 days they don’t look too different from mine> http://www.davisonshire.org/Junk/McMold.htm

  14. I’m moved from the UK to New Zealand a few years ago and noticed the difference in the junk food over here. My kids do have an occasional Happy Meal or pizza (a rare treat amidst all those veggies and fruit and home made snacks) but they are cooked to order here and you have to wait, it’s kind of slow fast food! In fact my daughter had one yesterday and didn’t finish it, checked the bit that was left this morning after reading your blog and it’s already shrivelled and dry and I have it on the worktop and there is a fly happily munching on it (we are still in summer here). It’s interesting but NZ do seem to have lots more regulations on food, I wonder if McDonalds over there would change if the public demanded it?

  15. I’m sure any food in an arid, mold and fly-free home would suffer a similar fate. I can tell you from experience that McDonalds food found in my car after a couple of days WAS rotting and it DID stink.

    This is junk science about junk food.

  16. James, I am not sure where you live that meat will last a year without rot but I live in TX and any cooked food left out over night WILL stink and be rotting by morning. If somehow it is missed and left a couple days the smell will let you know someone missed cleaning up a lil something.

    I have found McD’s left overs in my SUV weeks later and just like the photos above they might be shriveled but they still look like “fresh” and there is no stink…even in our hot summer weather. My oldest found a “CInnabun” in its package under the SUV’s seat yesterday…dried out with no smell. Who knows how long that was in there!

    Thanks for thee interesting article Nonna!

    Mrs T

  17. I might also add, that to be considered “prime” beef has to be aged for 21 days, but nobody thinks that’s weird and they pay top dollar in fancy restaurants to eat this aged-but-not-rotten beef.

    I used to work in a restaurant (not fast food, a classy place, the fries were made from fresh cut potatoes) and we’d find dead fries behind the equipment during our annual pull-the-appliances-and-clean-behind-them drill and they were always dried and rot-free, the year-olds looked just like the fresh fries. And who hasn’t found the “lost” potato that fell out of the bag in their pantry, an old shriveled dried hard thing- preserved for all of eternity into a hard little ball? Untouched by McDonalds, yet preserved nonetheless!

    It’s not news that salted meat dries out and gets preserved. Humans have been doing it for thousands of years to preserve their food and mummify their dead.

    Remove the anti-McDonald’s-rant from this story and it would make an excellent Mr. Wizard article about food preservation.

  18. James Barr is right. McDonald’s burgers are 100% beef and the meat not decomposing has zero to do with it’s nutritive value.

  19. [...] The food we eat, Toxic Free Living, chemical elimination) A couple of my friends shared this blog today on Facebook. It seemed very appropriate for today considering it is my son’s 5th [...]

  20. Unless you made a burger and fries of your own and set them on the shelf next to the ones from McD’s, you can be confident of no conclusions whatever from this exercise. I don’t eat fast-food burgers either, but that just means you and I have the same bias. If you want to draw any conclusions from any experiment or observation, you simply have to have a control sample.

    The late Richard Feynman spoke extensively about people believing things they shouldn’t believe, because it was consistent with what they expected to find in advance and so they never looked at it too closely. He summed it up this way: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you’re the easiest person to fool.”

  21. Wow! Amazing! Very true. It is so important to eat raw and organic as much as possible. Eating great is a form of health insurance for me.

  22. i would recommend reading the book, Natural Cures They Don’t Want you to Know About, by Kevin Trudeau. He talks a lot about food and the corruption in the food industry. Food Inc. is a movie that I also recommend on the subject.

  23. I’m throwing the BS flag on this experiment, and I’m going to continue to have my once a week double cheeseburger(I keep it to at no more than every other week for my kids). I’m not sure about the fries, but the burger likely did not get moldy because it is a very low water item and kept in a low water environment. I bet the same thing would happen if she made peanut butter toast from bread she made from scratch and left it out. I am positive there are microbes breaking it down even now, but its not like she got out a microscope to check. They fail to account for the fact that your body has stomach acid. It certainly will not sit in your stomach and not decompose. This article is just part of the scheme to villanize junk food which obviously is having no impact on America’s obesity crisis. What people need to do is to teach their children to eat reasonable portions and treat junk food like the treat it is. I guarantee, denying them Mcdonalds as a kid will mean that is all they will want when they have their own money and ability to make decisions.

  24. Right on, Alexis. Everything in moderation. Are these the type of individuals responsible for today’s litigious society?

  25. Supersize Me did do an experiment similar to this and they did put a hamburger and fries from a mom and pop restaurant next to the McDonald’s food. The mom and pop food did decompose the McDonald’s did not.

  26. ^^^ Alexis writes, “This article is just part of the scheme to villanize junk food which obviously is having no impact on America’s obesity crisis.” ARE YOU SERIOUS!?!?!?! REALLY?!

    Wow, who knew so many kids can grow up to become brainwashed adults who continue to “drink” the marketing Kool-aid that is Ronald McDonald and his arches. Do you “junk food” supporters realize this blog post is on a website dedicated to educating people about healthy food and the problems with our food supply? Thank you to the author for this insight. At least people are talking…maybe they will remember this article the next time they decide to (in moderation of course!) put this highly processed, nutrient free poison into their body.

  27. Quote:
    “Wow, who knew so many kids can grow up to become brainwashed adults who continue to “drink” the marketing Kool-aid that is Ronald McDonald and his arches?”

    How do kids grow up? By being nurtured by their parents. If 99% of parents weren’t so self absorbed and distracted maybe they could convey their knowledge of nutrition? IF the parents themselves are not hard wired to that dietary nightmare enterprise. Did you ever stop to think how much better your “prize” would perform on the soccer field pumped up with the proper diet and knowledge of nutrition? No. You reward the little b******* with this s*** after the game. You reap what you sow.

  28. I don’t care what anyone else says about how ‘bad’ this ‘experiment’ was. It gets people talking about all the crap food we’re being sold. The fact that our children are eating meat that has been ’sanitized’ with ammonia and chock full of delicious MSG and other additives is enough reason for me and my child to avoid it. I can not only make the same items at home, but with much better ingredients AND it will taste better, too.

  29. Someone else above hit it on the head. It’s the sodium that’s preventing the decomposition. Ever hear the phrase “Salting the earth”? We’ve used salt for thousands of years to prevent decomposition, yet you’re surprised that it happens now. While the quality of food at McDonald’s is poor regardless, the nutrients are still there. Meat has protein, buns have carbs etc.

  30. Oy. I had a friend who inadvertently kept a Sonic burger in her car trunk for 3 months, with the same result. Your one year experiment tops this by a longshot. Scary.

  31. Repeat the experiment under controlled conditions and then you can make such slanderous statements.

    Mortimer, If you read my blog, you know this was an observation, not an experiment. I beg to differ, slander refers to a malicious, false and defamatory statement. I made observations and gave my opinion. Nonna Joann

  32. Great topic!
    How can ANYONE deny that the state of our Nations “Food” today has nothing to do with the Health Crisis we are in right now? Between Childhood Obesity, Adult Obesity, Diabetes, Cancers, Autism, ADD, ADHD, Allergies, all of the increased diseases today are obviously due to environmental toxins.
    Whether you look at the air quality, water quality, the thousands of chemicals in our daily lives that never were there even 10-15 years ago, I would easily say that the biggest chemical increase to which most everyone is exposed to is our “Food” Supply!! We all eat, and need to eat to survive.
    The ‘food’ industry today as it stands is unacceptable, and anyone who denys it must be either so naive or is paid by someone in the ‘food’ industry.
    Sure, some of these posters have said that McDonalds is 100 beef…or that it has nutrients to it because meat is protein….but really? They take their advertisements for gospel? Huh? So Naive..whether intentional or not…

    so, if a mcdonalds ‘burger’ is 100% beef, then how can it have the following also listed in its ingredients:

    “100% Angus beef. Prepared with Grill Seasoning (salt, black pepper) and Angus Burger Seasoning: Salt, sugar, onion powder, natural (botanical source) and artificial flavors, maltodextrin, natural beef flavor [beef broth, yeast extract, maltodextrin, salt, lactic acid, natural flavor (plant source), beef fat, citric acid], spice, dextrose, autolyzed yeast extract, garlic powder, dried beef extract, sunflower oil, caramel color, worcestershire sauce powder [distilled vinegar, molasses, corn syrup, salt, caramel color, garlic powder, sugar, spices, tamarind, natural flavor (fruit source)], spice extractives, annatto and turmeric (color), calcium silicate and soybean oil added to prevent caking. ”

    My point is that what they call ‘beef’ is 100% beef, but then what do they ADD to the 100% beef, THAT is the problem!


    “Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor [wheat and milk derivatives]*, citric acid [preservative]), dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate (maintain color), salt. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.
    CONTAINS: WHEAT AND MILK *(Natural beef flavor contains hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk as starting ingredients).”

    One could argue then that the fries are also 100% potatoes…hmm, I wonder why they dont use that in advertising? Probably because they know that we all know its not just potatoes, so their 100% beef arguement would also be questioned…where as they still continue to use 100% beef as a slogan to make the majority of consumers feel that yes, in fact it is 100% beef within their burgers…got me?

    Gosh, I think the fact that some people here have actually defended the mcdonalds food, or even the state of our ‘food’ supply here in the US, are SOOOOOOO out of it, again, not sure if they are naive because they have been drinking too much of their kool-aid and eating so many of their chemicals that they really DO believe what they are saying here, or if they are being purposely naive because of where their paychecks are coming from…either way, its time to wake up and smell the greed people…

    And as those who are critizing this mom (today is the first time I have seen it here, GREAT site! Will be back to read much more!), about how this blog ‘experiment’ was or was not done correctly, its just a tactic used continulously to take the blame off of the REAL problem here (“FOOD” that doesnt have one spec of visable mold or spoiling after ONE YEAR of being on a shelf!!!), but want to ‘blame’ her lack of scientific control? Really? Sure, we have all had that one little shriviled potato rock hard at the back of our pantry here or there, but then when you look at all of the other potatoes, they have VISABLE ROT AND MOLD on them..and if they dont, well, your potato is probably filled with chemicals from their growing…I challange anyone here who doubts this blog post because they say REAL FOOD will not rot either, go ahead and try it yourself, I guarantee you, make yourself a hamburger and bun and fries with all organic REAL food, and you will notice a smell, rot, and mold…regardless of climate…and it will be within days, surely not over a YEAR!

    REAL food, like our grandparents had, would NEVER do this, plain and simple….and REAL food is ORGANIC food….and the excuse I consitantly hear from those who ‘bash’ why I buy organics for our family that ‘well grandma used to eat this all the time and they never got sick’…well ‘grandmas food WAS ORGANIC, hello!?!?’

    ..one more thing… I think I read someone who said something like “well the stomach has acid to break the mcdonald down, so it isnt like the food just sits in there and doenst rot??’…not sure what they meant but I can tell you that our bodies are not genetically able to digest ALL of these chemicals in our foods, therefore THAT is why we have the increased (and NEW) diseases of today..from the chemicals, from the environment…(and when I use the term ‘environment” I mean anything that is not already inside of our bodies genetically, such as: food, air, outside IN the actual environment, chemicals in our houses, furniture, clothes, vaccines, foods, medicines…etc)…

    Thanks for the great work on getting everyone to start thinking about this! And you did an amazing job at keeping it for a year, I would have totally been disgusted by a week or two and tossed it!

    Keep it up!
    Mom to Ethan, Alex, and Megan

  33. This blog is nothing but an uninformed mass of false assumptions.

    Your own words: “Food is SUPPOSED to decompose, go bad and smell foul…eventually.”

    Bread is food. Bread will go stale and get crusty. It won’t necessarily mold or decompose if the bacteria that would normally do the decomposition can not survive.

    Water is necessary for life. Water doesn’t decompose.
    Salt is a NECESSARY mineral (though we often consume more than necessary), but never the less, Salt does not decompose.
    Uncooked pasta won’t decompose, either. but by your logic pasta is no longer good for you.
    Seeds and nuts won’t decompose if left on the shelf either. So they MUST be bad for you, right?

    And it’s not the food that smells foul during decomposition, it’s the waste from the bacteria that are digesting the food. And if you dehydrate the food (as you’ve done) bacteria won’t be able to survive, so won’t decompose it, and so then it won’t smell.

    So like I’ve said, all you’ve done here is dehydrate the Happy Meal. You’ve admitted as much.
    Dehydration is NOT proof that the food is not food or is not good for you.
    Apple chips, beef jerky, trail-mix, croutons, etc all common DECENT foods.
    Lack of moist decomposition also is NOT proof of food being bad for you.

    Try to leave the real conclusions and recommendations to the certified dietitians and medical Doctors.

  34. What I want to see now is a homemade hamburger and fries being set to the same test. I helped my brother clean up his apartment, and you’d be surprised how old food can get and still look less than a few days old.

  35. Umm, this happened to food I cooked myself, It’s the oil. I made some shepard’s pie and half of it spilled in the oven because of my clumsiness. When I was moving out a year later I noticed some had fallen in the broiler area, and they hadn’t decomposed. The peas, the carrots, the meat, it looked all the same. Any thing that’s fried will do this because the oil replaces the water which causes decomposition.

  36. You know what, I’m calling B.S. unless you’ve got another 364 pictures.

  37. Did the burger have any condiments at all (ketchup, mustard, pickles, or onions), or did you order it plain? I’d be interested to know if those extras would hold up any better.

    Carl, I actually purchased two hamburgers (read Nonna’s Happy Meal Blog…see the link at the end of this blog) one with condiments one plain. The condiments were absorbed into the patty and looks almost the same as the plain patty.—Nonna Joann

  38. Hello, I think this is a very interesting concept and I’m really amused and surprised at how they look after one year. However, in response to some of the comments here, as a biologist currently pursuing a degree in microbiology I can promise you that whether or not a food decomposes naturally has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not your body can or cannot derive nutrients from it. The processes with which our bodies break down and extract nutrients from food are entirely different from the method in which a fungus or bacterial colony would handle the same situation. The burger is likely dessicated to the point of being inhospitable to any microbial life.

    I’m surprised at how quickly people jump to the conclusion that it is unhealthy when faced with the strange or the unexpected. There are actually many things that can be left out like this, some of which may surprise you.

  39. Never fear, netizens! The Stinky Meat project long ago studied decay of various meat products, one of which contained a great deal of preservatives.

    Sure, no Happy Meals were involved, but it is still interesting and verifies that preservatives do preserve meat for an unnaturally long period of time. Check it out

  40. Oh my! Well it must have taken guts to do this little experiment – I’d freak if I had to keep a Happy Meal in my home for an entire year. Hats off to you! This is one of the most sinister things I’ve ever read about. And that’s saying something. This is enough to put me off of junk food for life, and beyond. Which can only be a good thing. x

  41. Your observations are no proof at all for the toxic ingredients of fast food. Drying is a very old technique for food preservation – corn, meat, fish, vegetables. If the food is dryed and saltet you have a good chance to preserve it for worse times or long journeys. You could try to get the water back into the food and eat it. That would make an interesting experiment! But maybe the oil and fats have gone bad.
    Fast food is not bad for its ingredients alone! Maybe they arent bad at all. If you do french fries from bio potatoes it not healthy too! Think about acrylamide, fat containment, carbon hydrates!
    First of all fast food it has a great environmental impact. The production of flesh needs a lot of water and space and produces methane as one result.

  42. Wow, I’m honestly surprised at the amount of people here disparaging the author and defending fast food.

    If it’s so natural, like trail mix or an aged steak, then I suppose you’d be just fine with eating the year-old Happy Meal. I didn’t think so. (Or perhaps you would — you eat in when it’s “fresh”, so I guess I wouldn’t put much past you.)

    Fast food is bad for you and you shouldn’t eat it if you can avoid it. Why is this still news?

  43. Interested in the pro-organic stance here, just wondering if anyone had any evidence that organic food is healthier? Last time I checked the soil association (which certifies whether food is organic in the UK) couldn’t make these claims. Just interested in this area.
    (Taste is of course an important aspect too but I’m not so interested in that as it’s so subjective).
    Organic farming also takes up a lot more land than intensive farming, so of course by insisting on organic, you’re potentially stopping a poorer community from being fed…. :)

  44. [...] Bekijk hier hoe de happy meal er na een jaar uitzag. [...]

  45. [...] kerk is één van de voorwaarden tot heilig verklaring een wonder. In dat kader moet je dus dit Happy Meal plaatsen. Het is een jaar geleden in de kast gelegd en er is nog niets , NIETS !,  aan vergaan. Het [...]

  46. Good that you are all talking about this – we need so much more education about what is food and what are food substitutes! I would just like to point out that “2 replies” (#33) mentions a lot of ill-informed notions about what is food and what is not. For the record, SOME bread could definitely be considered food, particularly if it is made with whole grains, a bit of yeast, water and perhaps some salt and a little natural sweetener. THAT is bread! Not what you buy in the grocery store with 37 ingredients. The reason that things like white bread and pasta may not decompose if set out on a counter is because the white flour and other added ingredients they are made with which have no nutritional value, and preservative to make it last longer than a couple days. No wheat germ, no nothing. A rat wouldn’t eat it white flour either. Whole wheat and other whole grains are what our foods should be made with – and those WILL degrade naturally. Seeds and nuts will go rancid after a certain amount of time, and I can tell you it’s less than a year. If nothing else, everyone should educate themselves. The book In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan is a great place to start if you want to learn something about this topic. Good luck and happy eating!

  47. Sugar, also a completely natural food that doesn’t decompose unless it gets wet.

    Thanks for being part of the scare tactics that are completely confusing people about health and their relationships with food. I agree, you should leave the science and the medical advice to people who actually understand it (and read more than one sided propaganda on the issues.)

  48. So it seems the gauntlet has been thrown down by a number of posters.

    Start again with another McD burger and a fresh home made burger with similar toppings (to get the same moisture content). Wrap them in the same paper or on the same type of plate and see what happens. A couple weeks should be enough time to see if there’s a difference. It still wont be scientific but still an interesting experiment!

  49. [...] Happy Birthday to My Happy Meal via babybites.info [...]

  50. That picture on the left “weights” almost 3 Mbytes. It is way too large to be published here, knowing that this website faces lots of bandwidth problems… Nice info, though… Thanks.

  51. We went to this store for thin bread, and the expire date was 9 month later. We decided not to buy it. What in the wolrd was in that bread, obviouly lots of them to keep it on shelf for 9 more months!

    My son always vomits after that fast food, we quit a while ago.

    Strongly recommend everybody go watch that movie “Food”, you will be shocked!

    Cook whnerever you can please, fo your long term health.

  52. As many have said, the science of this article is not exactly present, but the author also said that it was not an experiment and only her observations and opinions. This article is what most would call a case study; it is what happened in one case under one set of conditions.

    I think it would be interesting to have a controlled experiment done. However, their are so many factors to take into consideration that I think it would be hard for the average person to take this on in their own home. The different foods would have to be split into different groups with different factors acting on them such as, different humidity levels, temperatures, light, a combination of those factors, and much more.

    I have been one of those people who has inadvertantly found some of my own results. I’m from FL (hot and humid), and as a college student, I was often grabbing the quick bite before classes or work and often forgetting unfinished food in the back of the car. The results varied. There were times when just a day or 2 later my car would smell like a dumpster and other times where I’d find a leftover bag from maybe weeks before. But like I said before, I’m not sure of what factors caused the different outcomes.

    While I know that fast food is pretty awful stuff, I don’t think that the lack of decomposition necessarily has much to do with it’s awfulness. (It’s mostly the extra fat and oil and preparation methods that make it so bad.) Lack of moisture and high levels of preservatives (not exactly great for our bodies) are the causes of lack of decomp. And as many have already mentioned here, preservatives have been around for thousands of years with salting and pickling. I like to make my own bread (no preservatives), and I keep it in the microwave so it doesn’t have the extra elements playing on it. It can stay in there for weeks and not get moldy and only dry out, but I know what I put into it and it is good for me. Also, my dad was in the Army and would sometimes bring home MREs (meals ready to eat), which last a long time. They were dehydrated and salted foods. I thought they were disgusting but my sister would eat them, especially the fruits which would grow in fron of our eyes like those little capsules that dissolve in water to become a sponge star or dinosaur.

    Like I said before, fast food is not something that is great for you and should not be apart of a daily diet, but I don’t think it will kill me…or maybe it will. Today with all the scientific knowledge we have, we know that everything will kill us. Eggs are an amazing low cal source of protein, but they have high levels of cholesterol. Coffee is a good way to wake up, lower hunger if you’re trying to lose weight, and can help with constipation, but it also can raise your heart rate and blood pressure and dehydrates you. The sun will give us vitamin D to help us absorb calcium, but it will also give us skin cancer, so we put on sunscreen to protect ourselves from the sun, but that has some extra ingredients which also could give us cancer. We use soap and antibacterial so we don’t get sick, but the antibacterial also kills good bacteria and can cause nail fungus and the perfumes in many soaps are made with more cancer causing ingredients.

    I think that all of our scientific findings have lead to that one simple: everything in moderation! Eat a healthy, balanced diet and only sometimes give yourself that bad little treat. I do want to live as long and healthily as possible, but I also want to enjoy my life : )

  53. OK, ANYTHING will not decompose in an arid environment. I have an Orange that is 7-8 years old; it looks like a wax orange. As everyone knows Oranges are healthy for and are supposed to rot. in fact Penicillin was derived from the fungus mold that grows on oranges. Its not just the orange that I have found that is more than a few months old. I had a Styrofoam box from a local Indie burger joint with Fries and ketchup in it. the fries looked a little dried out but the ketchup was fine, and this was at over a month. My point is that you need the right conditions for anything to rot, and even Healthy food won’t.

    I am rather Tired of people relating decomposition to health in food and the slack attitude to personal responsibility towards health. Just take some responsibility for yourself and your children to eat healthier. Learn to prepare healthy snacks and meals that are appealing rather that blaming a stubborn eater on their affinity towards “junk” foods.

  54. The only intresting question really is: Did you let someone eat it? Or did you try it yourself?
    Please do and post pictures. It would be nice to know if it’s still eatable, so people can stock a lot of fastfood before inflation.

  55. I agree with those who are criticizing this post for being unscientific and biased. It’s not that we’re defending fast food or unhealthy dietary decisions. We’re simply criticizing the thoughtlessness of proclaiming “Look at this happy meal that hasn’t decomposed — it MUST be bad for you!” I understand that you may personally think you are just posting “observations” and not “an experiment” — but you are still responsible for potentially spreading misinformation.

    And to those who think non-decomposing food is non-degradable inside “a child’s stomach” — please realize that food in our bodies is broken down with enzymes and bathed in strong acid, whereas food sitting on a kitchen counter is not. Besides, that’s like saying, “Fiber doesn’t break down completely in our system. It must be bad nutrition!”

  56. [...] attacking McDonald’s, but you might want to think twice before caving in to your child… Source Share with [...]

  57. “Michael, Food should decompose. Within days mold should be visible. Maggots usually can be found in rotten meat. In short order, without refrigeration the food should look pretty yucky.
    Nonna Joann”

    Much as I dislike McDonalds food and business practices, unfortunately nothing has been proven here. Drying meat is a very old preservation method. Bread does not go moldy in dry conditions. Salting is also an old preservation method, so the fact that salty fries dry out with no mold is no surprise. If a similar meal cooked with organic ingredients had behaved differently I would have been more interested, but leaving some food out to dry is not news. Sorry, I just don’t see the point. If you had left it in the ground and dug it up some time later with no decomposition, now that would be something!

  58. Regarding post #52 by Addy — the cholesterol in eggs does not raise blood cholesterol or in any other way contribute to heart disease. You can eat a dozen eggs a day with no negative impacts on health whatsoever. Eggs are one of our most valuable foods. There is no reason to avoid them.

    Regarding misleading labelling — Cheerios can legally claim to be made WITH whole grain oats, but it cannot claim to be made FROM whole grain oats. One is true, one is false. Consumers are deceived nonetheless into believing that Cheerios is a whole grain cereal. Mission accomplished.

    Whatever a McDonald’s burger is made of, it does have food value and is probably worth its price. The same cannot be said for the fries and pop which so often accompany a fast-food burger. This is where the profit is, and also where the danger lies. Indeed, french fries may be the most deadly so-called food ever invented. This of course is because of the oils they’re cooked in nowadays.

    No matter what kind of oil is used, it essentially turns into a kind of glue when heated to the temperature required for deep frying. I know that super-heated oils are toxic to lab animals. There is plenty of evidence indicating that they are toxic to humans as well. They can damage every cell in the body. Why then do we allow our children to eat french fries which are drenched in the stuff?

    Some related items:




  59. You need a catalyst to break the food down, such as the amino acids in our stomachs…

    I know people like to think that we are far more superior than any other entity on the planet, but when it comes down to it we are still all animals. We fall in the omnivore category which eat both meats and veggies. We are not naturally picky about what we eat, though over time we have acquired a taste for salty and spiced foods, which is why this burger and these fries are hanging around nicely.

    McDonald’s has made it their business to make sure the food they serve is not harmful to people, as McDonald’s is an easy target for lawsuits. They have spent large amounts of money ensuring that they have killed all bacteria in their product before it ever meets a human for consumption (freezing and cooking take care of most of these bacteria).

    As for why the meat and bun are still around well this is nothing new and to show you I will use a couple of mainstream media events in the past 15 years to emphasize this point. Well for the bun: I saw a Seinfeld episode about a hundred year old cake that Elaine enjoys; it looked wonderful and tasted wonderful however when it hit her stomach it did not feel wonderful. Bread, especially with a preservative can persevere. And the meat: They pulled a 10,000 year old man out of a glacier. He looked about the same today as he did 10,000 years when he got trapped in that ice. He was a little dried up and the bacteria in his clothes did a little damage to him and his clothes but they were slowed down by the icy environment. This guy was not even cooked nor packed in salt yet he was still a well preserved piece of meat.

  60. Two trends jump out at me in reading the responses to this blog:

    1.) That the ‘debate’ seems to fall somewhat among gender lines, with the fairer sex siding mostly with the author and the guys for the most part calling B.S.

    2.) That the two sides are talking past each other. Those of us calling B.S. (myself included) on this article are focused mainly on the lack of validity of the PROCESS, and the the misrepresentation of the author (intentional or not) that this ‘observation’ of hers has ANY validity that would allow a conclusion to be drawn from it (It does not). The fairer sex seems more focused on the conclusion (which, ironically, is most likely correct, but has no connection to this ‘observation’) and defending the author. As usual (though there are certainly many exceptions to these stereotypes) the guys are looking at it logically – no control group, no description of the conditions of the ‘observation’, (ex: did the flies have access to the meat?, etc.), no independent verification of results; yet a conclusion was drawn based upon it, whereas the female responses have had a mostly emotional bent to them (oh THANK YOU Nonna Joann for helping to protect my kids! I’m going to show these pictures to my kids so they can be healthier! You big meanie guys need to stop protecting the evil fast food clown who’s killing OUR KIDS!).

    I should note that I’m not offering the the whole logic v. emotion thing as a slight to either sex; they are a complimentary ying and yang that, in proper balance, can serve to have two people compliment each other very nicely (and is another discussion in and of itself). I am also a father who loves his kids (and step kids) as much as any mother ever loved theirs. But in this case I think it has splintered this debate into two different tracks.

    Let me get back to what I think is the common ground: I think everyone, with few exceptions, agrees that MCDONALD’S FOOD (and most fast food) IS BAD FOR YOU AND YOUR KIDS. No one (or at least most of the posts I read) is arguing that. I would also say that the broader subject the author tries to address, that the risk v. benefit analysis of getting something your picky kids will actually eat, is a valid one – we do it, sometimes the in-flight refueling in the middle of a hectic day is an option we go for, and frankly we never feel very good about it.

    It should also be noted that the author correctly notes that she called this an ‘observation’ to blog about, and not an ‘experiment’. That said, I would take issue with not only the process but the author as well – while she did in fact make the SUBTLE distinction on what she choose to call her piece, the PERCEPTION AND REPRESENTATION (whether in intentional or not) was that this was offered as at least a quasi-scientific exercise: She cites lack of decomposition (“Food is SUPPOSED to decompose, go bad and smell foul…eventually.”), lack of attention from diminutive scavenger life forms ( “Flies ignore a Happy Meal and microbes don’t decompose it…”) – both of which are factually incorrect – and draws a seemingly scientific conclusion (“…your child’s body can’t properly metabolize it either. Now you know why it’s called “junk food.”
    I think ants, mice and flies are smarter than people, because they weren’t fooled. They never touched the Happy Meal. Children shouldn’t either.”).

    A fine example of circular logic if there ever was one.

    FACT: The initial cooking of the meat and fries would serve to kill most, if not all of the bacteria.
    FACT: The salt in the meat and fries (of which there is a TON) would serve to inhibit re-establishment of any bacteria or other microbial and / or parasitic organisms, and salt repels flies and maggots.
    FACT: The arid climate would serve to dehydrate these foods quickly, and in light of the high salt (& oil) content, this would likely occur before decomposition (a method used for food preservation for THOUSANDS of years…)
    FACT: Flies are attracted to WET, ROTTING food, which needs remain so for apx. 7 days for maggots to survive.

    The lack of maggots is easily explained by the fact that the Happy Meal was left INDOORS, and dried out quickly. I’ll venture a guess that the author does not encourage flies in her office. The lid on the author’s childhood garbage pail would have retained moisture, another essential condition for flies to be attracted to the food and for maggots to survive.

    For those looking for REAL, USEFUL, information from a CREDIBLE source, I would recommend this link to The Learning Channel’s cooking site (and specifically for this discussion the links to “Dehydrating Food” and “Salting and Pickling”: http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/menus/food-preservation.htm

    For all the emotion-based posters on this blog, get ready to be fired up:

    The scariest thing for me about this article is that Nonna Joann is represented as a “Nutritionist”. If she is representative of Nutritionists, then the occupation is in a sad state, indeed. Her husband doubted her sanity. I question her intelligence (as well as those that buy into this article). This article is a disgrace to journalism, blogging, science and reasonable, intelligent people everywhere, not to mention Nutritionists in particular.

    Only a little less disturbing is the fact this indeed went viral. Though I wasn’t surprised to learn that the “news” organizations that picked it up were Fox News and the New York Post (for those with a lack of attention to detail / subtlety, “news” is in quotes because these aren’t really news organizations, any more than the “World Weekly News” is – and sorry, no, Bat Boy is NOT real…). I think it’s significant that CNN and the New York Times passed on it….

    Sadly and ironically, she does her cause a disservice as well. By taking a correct conclusion (McDonald’s and other fast food is bad for your kids) and attaching this ridiculous, sensationalistic exercise in circular logic to it, she gives those that WOULD try to defend McD’s, et. al., ample ammunition to attack the validity of the conclusion (that it’s bad for you). Perception IS reality these days, and the article is misleading, inaccurate, and (except for the conclusion) false, in that it DOES represent itself as scientifically valid.

    If she truly wanted to educate people about the dangers of fast food, she should have wrote about what happens when you actually EAT it, not just look at it for a year. Talk about what all the salt, oil (that kept the flies. etc away) and fat does to your body when you eat it. Talk about the reason that kids like junk food is that it appeals to the basic tastes of humans – salt & sweet, and that fat has flavor. Talk about what it DOESN’T have that helps you – fiber, vitamins, etc. Suggest alternatives such as the sugars in fruits, lightly salted nuts, fats in fish, etc., list easily packed healthy snacks for on the road (carrot sticks, fruit bars, etc.). But spare us this ignorant, sensational, inaccurate garbage. But then again Fox News probably wouldn’t be interested in that, & it wouldn’t go viral on the internet, increasing hits to the website and thereby sales of her book…

    Nonna Joann suggests that “ants, mice and flies” are smarter than we are. Well smarter than her (and those that buy into her “reasoning”), maybe. But please don’t make that assumption about the rest of us. Get the facts straight, Nonna. You owe it to yourself, your profession, your readers, your cause, and now, thanks to the internet, the public at large.

    Oh NO! Come to think of it, you may be on to something! I think that McDonald’s is re-packaging old Happy Meal meat and re-selling it in plastic bags – & our whole family just had some on a road trip! Call Fox News! Call the Post! I’m gonna sue!…. oh, wait…. it was just some beef jerky. Never mind…

  61. I loved this post. Thank you. I skimmed though the comments and I see a lot of valid points.

    But what I mainly took away from your post was is that a Happy Meal is full of preservatives. And they did exactly what they were supposed to do. . . preserve. And regardless of whether people want to argue about “natural” and “organic”, it is best to eat fresh food — food that doesn’t require preservatives (even the extra added natrual food preserving sugar and salt). Bodies don’t need preservatives. And fast food is not as healthy as food that is not overly processed and overly “preserved”.

  62. Why is everyone coming down so hard on Nonna Jean? You have your facts, she has hers.

    Maybe we should be teaching the controversy here.

  63. i just want to tell you that you must not have ants in your area. i currently work in the hellhole where these meals are served and if we don’t pick the fries up off the floor we have ant invasion. your test is whack!

  64. Thanks Nona, that is truly gross! Reminds me of the documentary “Supersize Me” where the guy in there did something similar. We all know McDonald’s is not putting out food – it’s junk, it’s documented many times over and if anyone still believes it’s real food or in any way nutritious – well, good for them, let them gobble it all up. I also don’t know where folks are living that real food doesn’t rot but where I live real food goes bad quickly without some preservative like salt, dry heat or a refrigerator!

  65. Congratulations, You have found out what people have known for thousands of years, salt and dry air will make something preserve for a very long time! You do also know that in the restaurant, all the burgers are thrown out if they are left in the serving slope for more than 15 minutes to make sure you are always served fresh food.

    I’m not saying it’s a healthy meal, but you’re just not really thinking it from a relevant point. Salt is a preservative. Dry air is a preservative. Should both be banned?

  66. [...] goes to show you the power of the Internet. I would have never guessed in a million years that my Happy Birthday to My Happy Meal blog would create an international stir. (Pictured is my Happy Meal on its first [...]

  67. [...] laittoi linkin mielenkiintoisesta blogimerkinnästä, jossa kirjoittaja on seurannut vuoden päivät [...]

  68. Ok, this is simple called “dry food”. Nothing special. Eskimos, scandinavian people (same) have used to conserve food for centuries ago by just drying it. Mostly meat. In Norway you can see that they dry fish in the open fields.
    This Burger will survive still many years and it is still eatable. It has lost some of it’s nutrition values, but basicly just water has been removed from it.

  69. Basically the way you’re conducting the experiment is not acceptable. The fries and burgers that McDonald’s makes contains a lot of salt, and salt is used all around the world to preserve food. Definitely, with no humidity on the shelf would make it possible for the food not to grow bad. You might want to try keeping it for another year and maybe the food will start its rotting process.
    I agree that McDonald is serving the community bad-quality food. Either way, I like the way you compared the food over one year ( which I have never thought of doing ). As the years go by, I really hope that more people will realize that Junk food, although it’s sometimes delicious, is also the root of health problems.

  70. This is super shocking because I’ve never seen anything like this before.
    I wouldn’t disagree with this experimentation to show it off that fast food is really a bad choice to pick.
    High Fat, High Calories, unbalanced diet… No veggies or fruit.. other than French fries and hot burgers.
    For what you can spend to take the family to a fast food place just once, you can feed them 3 well balanced meals.
    Just the nutritional value.. Or more like it…lack of… Will pack on extra weight that none of us need. Not to mention all the preservatives in it..

  71. I’ve seen this video on facebook and what they shown is also about the french fries and the burger was not fully decompose after few months.But according to the video that I’ve seen before is the burger start decomposing after a month but not the french fries.But anyway your observation let me feel that this experiment is going to be trusted by anyone someday.
    For me,I feel that junk food is always bad-quality and even affects our health. So,i think that we should not so often taking junk food but cook for our self for our own health good.
    I hope that this observation is not going to be true for me because I’m the one who loves to spent my meal on MC Donald.But,if this experiment is truth then MC Donald should be held responsible.

  72. As many have said, the science of this article is not exactly present, but the author also said that it was not an experiment and only her observations and opinions. This article is what most would call a case study, it is what happened in one case under one set of conditions. She should try it in a place where there is more humidity in other words an area where all weather conditions apply.
    She cannot simply blame Mcdonalds because its not scientifically proved.

  73. hey guys!!
    its not just about eating @ mcdonalds. sometimes we have options but we still dont choose the right ones. in this case we cannot blame mcdonalds for services. basically they are just trying to fulfill our needs and our tastes by serving us. if one really thinks in a negative way about mcdonalds please try to consider other meal venues.sorry to sound rude!! but sometimes people have the tendancy to create ” mountains out of anthills.”

  74. You mean ants and mice don,t like MCDONALD’S . (Happy meal)? …. because dry air and salt is use as a preservative and McDonald,s Contain oil.Oil is also use as a preservative so don,t worry if ants don,t eat Happy meal. Next time try any other meal of MCDONALD’S because u r using junk science about junk food.

  75. Hi, i first of all want to let you know that i think you have i very creative and brilliant mind reason being that this experiment you conducted is not something that has come close to the minds of a lot of people {like me}. However, as a science student, i want you to consider the fact that a “theory” remains an experimented hypothesis if it has not been proven considering obvious factors. Dry air and salt are very good preservatives. In my country, when we want to preserve fish for a very long period of time, we simply salt it and keep it in a placwe where there is very little moisture. Mac donald food usually have a good amount of salt. This most likely could be a cause of the long time preserved state of your happy birthday meal. My advice is that you should try this same experiment considering some factors like moisture ,sunlight and lack of salt so as to guarantee that your experiment becomes a proven theory.
    I really love the thought of discovery. Good luck with other experiments CIAO!. :)

  76. Thank for Sharing, i wish that i had though of it. If i try it myself and come up with the same conclusion as you did I would never eat another McD Meal. In my opinion, food actually will getting stink when cooked or not, and we should take real food rather than FAST FOOD for our meal. These incident could give us an alert with junk food.

  77. I have seen someone posting this video on facebook. In this video the burger and fries was put into a jar. After leaving the jar for some time in an indoor, the burger and fries did not rot at all but it looks dry up because there wasn’t any moisture.
    I would agree with Noona John, this is a case of study not some scientific experiment as she as mentioned.

  78. I’ve seen a video of this except they did it in a jar. Every burger from the McDonalds and some french fries were covered in a jar. The guy who made the video leave those foods for a few weeks and the observation were remarkable leaving all the burgers rotten EXCEPT for the french fries !. From what i know, french fries usually mixed with a lots of salt, therefore it actually preserving it.
    Everytime when i go to McDonalds i myself wouldn’t eat the french fries, infact i would order a burger and a nice big cup of coke. I think McDonalds should know better about this(unless they are hiding something).
    My view point about this, is that she shouldn’t try doing this only at a single place. What if she brings this experiment into a more humid place, let say somewhere outside ?. Give more advantages for it to rot ! And if it doesn’t rot. Well, lets go on Riot ! XD

  79. My roommate and I did this with a Twinkie in college. We tacked it to out bulletin board and left it there all year. At the end of that time is was as fresh and spongy as it was at the beginning. (No one dared to eat it.)

  80. In reality the reason it does not decompose is that it has a high salt content. If you used Nonna’s reasoning then you would also believe that your child’s body could not break down beef jerky. All this being said that much salt in a hamburger or bun is pretty poor for your health.

    We went years without McDonald’s. Unfortunately we have eaten it some recently. Sometimes it is just easy. Well, I am swearing it off again. While I am at it I am going to swear off the other restaurants as well. They all use this much salt. Also, I feel awful after eating at McDonald’s.

  81. [...] détaillé se trouve ici : Vu sur : http://www.babybites.info Fais passer [...]

  82. [...] findings are perspicuous and mildly horrifying. On the one-year birthday of her Happy Meal, it still looked pretty much good enough to [...]

  83. This is interesting, but it was covered in SuperSize Me’s deleted scenes.

  84. GO RAW – THAT is the real food we are to eat…. stay away from cooked and processed foods!

  85. Meh. What a waste of time. You can do far worse than a Happy Meal or anything from McD’s for that fact. If this occassional food is a problem i your life you have way too little to worry about. McDs does not make kids fat and unhealthy. Too much of ANY food makes us fat. So instead of taking the time to publish stupid articles get up and take your child outside to play. You’ll both lose weight. Then top it off with a Happy Meal.

  86. I’m sorry. I am incredibly anti-McDonald’s, but you’re really pushing it. Have you ever made your own french fries? They don’t mold and they get hard as a rock within a few days with no decomposition. Cooked meat may mold and decompose, but heavily salted meat like all fast food places serve doesn’t decompose. That’s why pepperoni, which is raw meat by the way, stays for ages. This “experiment” was designed specifically to prove the author’s own biased opinions to people stupid enough to not understand meat preservation techniques. Of course, you should still stay away from McDonald’s because they’re an evil corporation pumping your bodies full of fat, but this particular argument is BS.

  87. [...] Happy Meal Blog – [...]

  88. Beef Jerky!?!?!?!?

  89. Wow Mark, now you’re calling me stupid, too. Hmm, maybe you’re right. Or maybe — and this is going to be hard for you to believe — maybe some of us understand food preservation techniques just fine. And maybe we think that McDonalds uses refrigeration as their preservation technique. So if they also pump their food with so much salt that it’s shelf stable for a year, then maybe they’re adding too damn much salt.

    Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with eating salt, but they’re more interested in getting us to buy larger portions of (high profit margin) soft drinks.

    And since you don’t understand that, then you certainly won’t understand that fat isn’t the evil that we’ve been led to believe for the last half-century. Trans fat, yes, but McDonalds started using that for their fries when anti-fat crusaders got them to stop using beef tallow, which didn’t have any of the health problems associated with trans fats, nor those related to rancidity in the vegetable oil they switched to.

    And finally you won’t understand why anyone would object to your use of “bias”, as though bias is always a bad thing. In this case the only “bias” is actually having a point of view. We’re allowed to have opinions here, and Joann seems to have been pretty clear about her opinion.

Leave Comment