Happy Birthday to My Happy Meal

By • Mar 3rd, 2010 • Category: Baby Bites in the News

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.

See the 4-year Happy Meal photo, Click Here.
No matter what, deep-fried food is unhealthy. Read Freaky Fried Food, CLICK HERE.
Read Nonna’s Happy Meal Blog, CLICK HERE.

Baby Bites
Want Flies With That?
chronicles how Happy Birthday to My Happy Meal came about and the startling consequences of chemicals in our food.

To purchase Want Flies With That or Baby Bites: Transforming a Picky Eater into a Healthy Eater, Click Here.

 

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




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177 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,
    Tara

  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:

    http://www.confessionsofameanmommy.com/the-mcdonalds-conundrum-do-you-do-fast-food/

    Denise

  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!

    blessings
    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!

    Fries:

    “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!
    Angie
    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.”
    WRONG.

    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.
    Such as YOUR ARID CLIMATE.

    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:

    http://www.members.shaw.ca/healthsciences/dying-for-fries.htm

    http://www.members.shaw.ca/healthsciences/KFC.htm

    http://www.members.shaw.ca/healthsciences/bandiera.jpg

  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. #60, Jon,

    Thank you for bringing sanity to this blog. She also appears to be someone who’s fallen for the ‘MSG IS EVIL’ scare tactics, and is quoting quacks like Russell ‘swine flu vaccines are bad’ Blaylock to support her ideas, ideas which appear to have little grounding in reality.

  67. Nice to see some common sense (finally) prevail on this subject.
    You mentioned the fact that the lack of moisture caused the bun to dry and crack. Bugs, just like you and I, need moisture to proliferate. This is why bread left out to dry will not mold, however, bread left in its bag for a long period of time will evetually mold.
    Thousands of years before chemical preservatives, foods were always preserved by drying and salting.
    Salt is acutally an oxidizer and kills small organisms.
    This is why fries will dry out and remain preserved.
    This is information you should have learned during your years in primary education. Instead you’re following and feeding the media hype machine……….like sheep over the cliff.
    The liberal hippy blind organic craze is so overdone its sickening.

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  69. 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.

  70. 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.

  71. 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..

  72. 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.

  73. 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.

  74. 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.”

  75. 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.

  76. 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!. :)

  77. 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.

  78. 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.

  79. 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

  80. 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.)

  81. 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.

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

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

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

  86. 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.

  87. 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.

  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.

  90. Wow. A bit of controversy never hurt anyone. At least it gets people talking. As avid a fast food hater as I am, as a chemistry major, the points about lack of experiment control and cooking and salt preserving the meal are well taken. Yes, the same might have happened with a homemade bun, fresh packed grass-fed beef burger, and fries. However, I am pretty sure that if this meal had been a piece of baked chicken, a piece of fresh whole-grain bread, a side salad, a cup of skim milk, and some black berries, it might have decomposed just a tad more in a year than the happy meal, even in an arid climate. I think this might be the take home point: that burgers and fries and pepperoni and whatever else doesn’t compose easily might not be the things we want to put in fancy boxes and give toys away with. If it’s so hard to get our kids to eat healthy food, maybe we should save the bells and whistles for the good stuff. Looking forward to reading the author’s book.

  91. If you leave a slice of processed cheese sit out, it will not get moldy either – rather it becomes like brittle plastic. I have also seen a Good Humor Fat Frog lie in the grass on a hot day and not melt.

  92. I can tell you exactly what they put in it: a lot of salt. Very simple. It will still be broken down in your stomach. Feed it to your kids or not (I grant lots of salt is not the best thing to eat every day, but I ate happy meals as a kid and I am not about to die), but the fact that you managed to dry it out without it molding is the simple result of what the Ancient Egyptians figured out thousands of years ago. The happy meal, stored in a dry location with no contamination and a lot of salt was essentially mummified. Mummies are not moldy either.

    There are a large number of dried food that were staples before refrigeration. Dried berries probably saved many pioneers from scurvy (they dry without molding because of sugar, by the way), and dried meat has long gotten people through the winter before refrigerators. The fact that a food dries out does not make it inherently bad.

    As far as the fact that something else would have decomposed more, yes, you are right. A cup of milk will go bad relatively quickly…your point?

    I plan on having children, and I may even buy them a happy meal or two. I will not feed them on nothing but fast food, but I wouldn’t feed them on nothing but salad either. Different foods do different things for us. After I had surgery, I really craved salt, because my body needed salt, so McDonald’s french fries were perfect. “A piece of fresh whole-grain bread” would have been the wrong choice. Food just works like that. You just have to be smart about when you eat every kind of food, but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat it.

  93. McDonalds represents everything that is wrong with Americas eating habits. They were also the driving force behind creating factory farming, which means the meat they use comes from diseased animals that are fed an unnatural diet just to make them fat. I would never allow my children to eat this crap and calling it a ‘treat’ is irresponsible parenting. I was never raised to eat this stuff and therefore don’t even find it edible. Children need to learn healthy eating habits early on from their parents and this will have a great effect on their choices as adults.

  94. come on… try to fry fresh potatoes at home and left them ont he plate for couple of days… you will see it has been dried out,but put them inside a plastic box and leave outside? here is the difference… do the same with fries from MC DO for example and you will see…. try it and then start to make analysis about…
    Soleil!

  95. Ok,I didnt want to say that eating Mc DO is good and good for your health,but just about the experiment that consist many different chemical and physical laws ;-)
    Nowadays it is hard to find totally bio and pure food… all this pollution around us… Eating only carrots and walking at the same time int he metro or on the streets of New York is totally healthy?

  96. Why does McDonalds throw food away after 5 or 10 minutes… they just have to keep it warm ;)

  97. [...] We refuse to acknowledge how really bad fried food is for us. Some of the comments left on my Happy Birthday to My Happy Meal blog related that all French fries live forever without concluding fried foods are damaging our [...]

  98. i am not surpriced at all, i have gotten my hand on some rolls from a hogroast stand on a fair,
    the bread was to be used within a year of when i got it.
    how healty is that?
    i like the nuggets,and have them once a year.. guess i am a picky eater but i love my broccoly and fresh carrots.
    i would love to see the meal next year, and i would say it aint much off of what it is now.
    lucky the fresh veggie season is awaiting.
    cheers,
    Arjan

  99. Nonna, the only amazing thing is your ignorance about food science. What you don’t realize is that you have preserved your food through dehydration. Food only naturally spoils when left in a condition that allows growth of bacteria, fungi, mold, or other living cells. What happened is that the food dried out before any obvious spoilage could occur. In a dry climate, beef jerky can sit on a shelf for many years without spoilage. Take a slice of bread and leave it out on a counter, propped up so that air can circulate around it. It won’t grow moldy or spoil – it will just get stale hard. A McDonalds hamburger also has a lot of salt in the pickles and ketchup, and the hamburger you chose had no fresh produce. If you take a similar hamburger of the same ingredients, even one you make yourself, you will get the same results. If anything, it shows that the hamburger was well cooked so that it started drying with a low amount of living cells to start spoilage. Now if you sprayed that hamburger with water and put it into a plastic bag to hold the moisture inside, I can assure you that it would have spoiled very quickly. It is only your ignorance that should surprise anyone.

  100. Is that Happy Meal for sale? I think I’m getting hungry….:)

  101. Believe it or not, Nonna, I performed this exact experiment in 1969 with fries and a McDonald’s hamburger. It was a college experiment. We left it for 6 months on a bookcase and expected it to rot or at least smell. It did neither. As with your experiment, it just got hard and stiff and ended up looking like the varnished food displays seen in many Japanese restaurants. Things have not changed obviously.

  102. I note the comment from the lady who moved to New Zealand who commented on how fast food down under is so different (healthier perhaps) than in US & that she suspects that this is due to better Government regulation, I also note the comment of the US loaves of bread with expiry dates 9 months in the future. What I am about to say might explain this somewhat, I was a Teenager in Sydney Australia in the 1980′s I rarely ate McDonalds except when friends would congregate in there store. On a Summer night around 1990 a group of my friends hoisted one of us up a wooden power pole to impale a cheeseburger on to an exposed nail. It stayed there, exposed to all the elements for almost a full year. When it finally broke apart the next summer & fell to the ground, nothing had tried to eat it, it remained on the ground untouched for some time until the local council removed it.
    I am led to believe that McDonalds buns in Australia at the time substituted High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_fructose_corn_syrup as a replacement for sugar, of course dietitians were telling us to all cut down on our sugar intake but fructose (what HFCS is metabolized as) is twice as bad. It is notable That McDonalds made Political Donations to our then Liberal/National party Government, Labor party Opposition & soon to be balance of power Cross bench party The Australian Democrats in 1998 that seem to be linked with the removal of the 22% Sales Tax rate for confectionary that their buns (& Soft drink) were subject to in favor of a 10% Goods & services Tax. McDonalds Australia appear to no longer use HFCS in their buns, but it is still used in their McDonalds sauces.
    HFCS has a long shelf life that prevents spoilage & can be used as a sugar substitute in most foods & in the US this appears to be the norm where it appears it would be used in every part of this happy meal with the exception of the Fries, even soft drinks like Coke in the US has substituted HFCS. Why? 1) In the US Import duties on sugar inflate the price of sugar to twice the world market price. 2) The US Government subsidizes the Corn industry making HFCS artificially low. 3) Negative media created for sugar – negative media slow to expose this artificial sweetener. 4) In the past diatitians have mistakenly recommended HFCS as it does not immediately increase blood Sugar levels (but unknowingly HFCS reduces the production of insulin)

  103. http://www.sprol.com/2005/10/high-fructose-corn-syrup/

  104. [...] by Addie Steinberg on April 2, 2010 Over the years I have heard some interesting things about different foods. There are two stories that stick out in my mind. First is the story that margarine is just one molecule away from plastic! Second is a blog that was recently shown to me about a McDonald’s Happy Meal and how long it can last.  Before I get too far off track, I just want to suggest that if something doesn’t expire or spoil it might not be something that should be consumed. Let me start with the story about margarine. I have seen an email in circulation for years about how somebody left a tub of margarine in their garage, only to notice that it did not change consistency, it didn’t smell differently, it didn’t start to grow mold on it, and flies didn’t even want it. The email said the reason for this is because margarine is only a molecule away from plastic. In this email there were claims that this finding was posted on Snopes and is said to be true. So, I did a little check for myself and the article is basically comparing butter to margarine and the differences in their fat content and nutritional value, not focusing on the nasty factor of margarine. However, snopes stated that the article has ” a fair bit of truth”- according to a study done in 2003. Snopes says the claim about it being nearly plastic is just an exaggeration. Plastic or not, I side with butter.  I know where it comes from and if I wanted to I could make it myself, I can’t say the same for margarine.   On to the second story, the McDonald’s Happy Meal. Ryan was nice enough to show me the blog written by Nonna Joann. She was conducting a little experiment, trying to see if the claim that a Happy Meal will last for years is true. She took a picture of it on the day she brought it home. She set it on a shelf in her office and blogged about it everyday. On March 3 2010 her Happy Meal was 1 year old! She took pictures of it on its “birthday”, and the results were gross really. Basically the meal did not decompose! The hamburger was a little dried out and shriveled, but the fries looked almost the same as the day she bought them. I understand that this is not a scientific experiment and doesn’t have comparisons or anything like that. What I do see is that the pictures speak for themselves.   These are just two silly examples of rumors that surround food. In both cases, neither the margarine nor the Happy Meal are anything that I want to eat, let alone feed it to somebody else under the pretense that it is “food”. Check out the links for yourself and let us know if you’ve heard of any interesting food experiments.   http://www.snopes.com/food/warnings/butter.asp http://www.babybites.info/2010/03/03/1-year-happy-meal/ [...]

  105. I am not sure what food your objectors are eating but potatoes mold, rot, reek to high heaven and turn to black slime in my house with in a few months and bread gets moldy with in a couple weeks. I should note that I have a habit of buying and cooking real food as opposed to vegetables grown with a ridiculous amount of chemicals and bread made with highly refined ingredients. Didn’t we all do the science experiment when we were kids where we kept a piece of food over a period of time and observed the molding process? I know I did. Even a piece of Kraft food cheese food product produced green mold in a couple of weeks. I don’t go to McDonald’s often and I never get burgers but I do get the occasional McMuffin sans meat or French fries. And I have noticed the uncommon occurrence of McDonald’s not rotting or molding. I have also noticed feeling like crudola later. As for that not being a sign that we shouldn’t eat it, our bodies can metabolize all sorts of things – play-dough, glue, chewing gum, pencil erasers, cardboard – doesn’t mean we should be eating it and just because we can metabolize something it doesn’t mean we are getting any nutritional benefit from it.

  106. Awesome project by the way, thank you.

  107. I am gonna have to try this experiment for myself. I live in Las Vegas and it is very dry here. I have noticed that food left in the clear bags from the grocery store inside the fridge or in the pantry will mold within days. Left out in the open air, the fruit and or veggies will slowly shrivel like a raisin without stinking. Cooked meats do the same. I have fried chicken and put the scraps on a plate for my cats and the leftovers dried without stinking nor decaying.

    Bugs avoid the fries because they are deep fried. If animals are not able to be tricked, why does my dog happily eat anything left out? She doesn’t care if it is Panda Express, Carls Jr aka Hardie’s, or home cooked.

    For those who are an organic trip, how do you suppose that those huge farms growing organic products keep pests away? They use the same pesticides as any other farm. I know that nobody really thinks there are people running around acres of land with fly swatters killing bugs and chasing off the rodents and birds.

    If your results are real, then thank you for your commitment to public health.

    Ronald

  108. Susan, deep fry any food and it will not decompose until something washes the oils out. Take a piece of bread and leave it on the counter, it will dry up and never mold as long as it stay dry.

    I am all for finding health hazards, but we must apply common sense with our thoughts.

  109. “Ronald”, are you saying you simply don’t believe what the organic producers are saying? Because that’s exactly what organic means, that they’re not spraying pesticides.

    If you don’t have any specific evidence otherwise, but simply can’t believe crops are grown without pesticides, then I’ve got a question for you: How do you think agriculture worked for 4,000 years before we developed chemical pesticides?

    For people who care to look, there are methods of keeping pests out. They typically involve not growing monocultures, since those are more susceptible to infestation.

  110. Hi – may I repost your blog onto mine?
    http://www.iinformedparenting.blogspot.com

    … this is a BRILLIANT article that EVERY parent should read!!

    ***
    Of course!

  111. Organic food is a scam. Sure, McDonald’s is nutritionally abysmal food, and is surely chock-full of preservatives, but to all you people out there saying “HERP DERP IT ISNT REAL FOOD” well, you are wrong and you should know full well that a demonstration like this holds no scientific validity. Plenty of foods will show the same results if left undisturbed on a shelf in a temperature controlled room with low humidity levels. Office buildings are usually kept at 60-70 degrees fahrenheit, and because of central heating and cooling have low humidity levels. Hey Nonna (stupid name, by the way) make a ham sandwich at home and keep it sterile (wash your hands or wear gloves) go ahead and use organic bread and organic ham. Put on same shelf. Watch as it dries up and doesn’t get moldy. Mold grows in moist environments. Decomposition also requires moisture.

    Also: Gauge the humidity in your office every day for a week. Post average humidity level.
    I’d bet my bottom dollar that its under 30%

  112. LDOG: I thought I’d clarify a couple of your concerns. First, my office is in my home and not kept at a constant temperature. “HERB DERP IT ISNT REAL FOOD.” I have no idea what point you are trying to make. “Nonna” is Italian for grandmother. I guess it’s a stupid name, if you don’t know what it means. Organic ham should be free of nitrates (a cancer-causing preservative). Nitrate-free or not, in my opinion, pork is the worst meat you can eat. So enjoy…it’s your funeral.

  113. I did not know that Nonna is Italian for grandmother, I assumed since you referred to yourself as Nonna that it was your first name, my mistake.

    By making the comment “Herp derp it isn’t real food” I was parodying the chorus of comments making claims that because the burger did not fester and rot indoors it is somehow “inorganic” and is somehow not “real” food.

    Why is pork the “worst meat you can eat” ? Is this based on any scientific study, facts or knowledge of nutrition? Or this an opinion based in pseudo-scientific hearsay and folk-wisdom? As with any kind of meat, what is important is the cut of meat used and the method of preparation. There are plenty of pork products that are exceptionally nutritious and healthful.

    I think you misunderstand why people are coming in droves to this blog to call you out. The crux of your blog post is that “Food is SUPPOSED to decompose, go bad and smell foul…eventually.” and that “Flies ignore a Happy Meal and microbes don’t decompose it, then your child’s body can’t properly metabolize it either.” You preserved the food through drying, therefore it didn’t rot. You left it inside on a shelf, therefore flies and mice could not get to it. Furthermore, what is the operational definition of “properly metabolize”.

    Nobody above is arguing that McDonalds isn’t unhealthy, or that preservatives aren’t unhealthy, people are protesting your faulty logic. How are you qualified to write a book about healthy eating (for kids, no less) and nutrition when you don’t know facts and science surrounding food and nutrition?

    Essentially, I take umbrage at your hyperbole, your misrepresentation of your demonstration, and your fear mongering. People in this country are woefully ignorant when it comes to nutrition and you are not helping.

  114. LDOG: I think the people, who are upset miss the point of my blog, which was to bring attention to how unhealthy fast food really is. I never pretended that I did an experiment. I never thought in a million years that so many people would read it. I wrote it for the parents who regularly read my blogs. I was being flippant to make a point. Hindsight is 20-20. I should have been more explicit, explaining what I actually meant. Because of some of the misunderstandings, I wrote “Freaky Fried Foods” http://www.babybites.info/2010/03/30/freaky-fried-food/

    Pork, shellfish and the like are scavengers. They were designed to eat the decaying refuse from the ocean and earth. Even “corn-fed” pork, will eat any putrid thing. (Do you think that a snake or mouse or rat never crawls into a pig pen?) Because pigs don’t have multiple stomachs, like a cow, in a matter of a couple of hours that putrid thing is their flesh. You enjoy the putrid thing the pig ate, when you eat the pig!

    I will say, that since this blog went viral, it has helped to dialog about fast food.

  115. Nonna, thanks for posting so that others may learn.

    And to answer Rachel’s question about nutrition: 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…

    I learned in one of my nutrition classes that it’s perfectly Legal for the nutrition content of a food to be based on organic foods, Even if that’s Not what’s used. So, regardless of what a processed food is made from, the nutritional content can sound healthy and nutritious. Another reason that if you want fast food, make it yourself.

  116. I did this same experiment in October of 2003, and the burger looks EXACTLY the same now in 2010 as it did when I bought it. A little dried up and smaller, but never any mold, smell or decomposition. I repeated the experiment in Sept. 2009 with Carls Jr and another Happy Meal — same results!! Now I am going to try with other burger companies — In and Out, Wendy’s etc — it’ll be interesting to see the difference if there is any.

    I am the director of a K-6 health science outreach program for a University and I use this to educate the kids about healthy nutrition.

  117. Why is everyone so shocked? Hasn’t anyone here seen the documentary about one mans mission to only eat food from McDonalds entitled Super Size Me? Rent it!!! A very amazing, eye opening flick and will change the way you eat forever. another good mention: Food Inc. And The Cove. Support your local farmers.

  118. [...] L’article original ici [...]

  119. The amazing power of artificial preservatives and high fat content. There is an older burger around…

    http://bestofmotherearth.com/2008/09/24/1996-mcdonalds-hamburger.html

    Although, I’m disappointed that both you and the linked blogger have decided to assume without any serious analysis that this reflects on the lack of nutrients in the burger rather than the effectiveness of preservatives and high fat content in helping food to last. (Incidentally, try any experiment to measure nutritional value – you will in fact find relatively large amounts of fats, proteins and carbohydrates in the bread, fries and burger patty).

    I’m not saying it is actually good for you, just that no logic underlies your explanation of why it is not. In fact your reasoning couldn’t be more wrong, it is the excessive amount of nutrients inside and the proportions they are in which makes it so unhealthy (confirmed by experiment, the nutritional information, the ingredients and plenty of internet information).

    The fact that it has not decomposed is not down to a lack of nutrients but a wide range of factors including the ambient temperature, humidity and the proportions of nutrients and other chemicals (rather than quantities) in fact a disproportionate abundance of particular nutrients (typically fats and proteins), can prevent the growth of many common micro-organisms responsible for decomposition – the dry, warm office conditions you describe and the high fat content of the foods sound almost perfect for preservation.

    If you want some easy to digest information on this I’d recommend watching Super Size Me, they accurately explain many of the reasons why McDonald’s and other fast foods so unhealthy – although the results of the core experiment are mostly invalidated by the extreme to which it was taken – any diet that involves eating that much fat and sugar will likely cause harm in line with what is shown in the documentary.

    Beware of bad information though. I’m always very wary of nutritionists – most I have spoken to seem to have no knowledge whatsoever of the biological or chemical processes involved in metabolism, the effects of most common nutrients or even the scientific method itself.

  120. “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.”

    The last time I heard an argument like that (that animals don’t do X and therefore it’s un-natural and bad), it was Robert Mugabe saying that homosexuals were lower than pigs and dogs. It’s not a logical argument to make.

  121. It looks like it’s been said but bears repeating… human digestion is not even kind of the same thing as food spoilage. Hard breads and jerky can last for months or years without mold or rot but digest easily into plenty of nutrition. The fact that McDonalds food doesn’t spoil easily says nothing about its nutritional value. The two properties just aren’t related.

  122. Does a regular decompose in the “arid” Colorado environment? I ask because after moving to the midwest from CO 6 months ago, my mother in law still can’t remember not to leave food sitting out on the counter. I’m no fan of fast food, but I’m not sure you’d get a different result with “real” food. Or the same result in steamy, buggy Florida.

  123. I didn’t have time to read all the comments so maybe someone has already mentioned this, but there are a myriad of other deeply compelling reasons NOT to eat Happy Meals. For one thing, McDonalds has a monopoly on the beef industry, as well as tomatoes, lettuce, etc. and thanks to McDonald’s, we have the highest rate of diabetes in the world and Americans are getting more and more obese. The 99 cent meal is designed to get people to buy fast food rather than go to the supermarket and buy healthy food and eventually, they become dependent on the cheap food and arguably addicted. The slaughter houses where all supermarket and McDonald’s beef come from are disgusting and inhumane. Ick, ick, ick.

  124. We posted a link to the post on our Facebook Fan Page! Awesome post! http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Orange-Crush-Kitchen/113838241961775?ref=ts

  125. Egyptians managed to preserve pharaohs for centuries under a similar, if not, hotter climate… sure they maybe have added some embalming additives, but it was the climate that did most of the work. Also it shows your office has no pests because mice, squirrels will eat plastic if they can smell food inside of it. People get sudden and inexplicable cable outages (I worked in the cable industry) squirrels gnaw through cable. Does this mean we could eat either? No offence, but with what science I’ve studied, your experiment only demonstrates the effect of an arid, pest free climate on on food… Nothing dietary.

    If you want to make a point of the reason why this food shouldn’t be eaten, post the nutritional values and fat content, research and post the effects of a high fat diet on a typical person (examples are everywhere), ect. This experiment should not act as a deterrent to keep anyone with a decent education from rarely allowing a kid to have one…. It only enhances an argument that future generations need to get a better education in the sciences before demonstrating pseudo-scientific experiments to pose some shock and awe to wow their similarly educated peers. Congrats on the traffic, btw.

  126. I am not sure there’s any bright individual out there that would say that junk food is good for you. Junk food is cheap, tasty and definitely NOT high quality. You bodies manufacture replacement cells and carry out “life” based on what you put into your body. If you put crap in, expect to get substandard results. In addition, if anyone consistently ate junk food and then stopped, could NOT possibly say they didn’t feel any better or notice any health improvements. Eat healthy, live healthy,…eat crappy, and you WILL be worse off than if you’d chosen to eat things that your body was actually designed to process.

    I agree this “test” shows nothing other than some foods in the right conditions (and ingredients) will not rot and really doesn’t give a good indication of the nutritional value. However, it certainly did get people ranting!

  127. I used to live in UK. One day on a day to work, there was a sign outside the Uk Macdonald “Now Chicken Nuggets made with REAL CHICKEN.” I could not help but wonder: what as used in the chicken nuggets before! I am not surprise when the fries can keep that long as the oil “seal” the potato completely. However, the bread should mold very quickly. Bread can even get moldy in the fridge!

  128. Thank you for your longterm experiment, Nonna.

  129. Wow… I’m speechless. I haven’t had McDonalds in 10 years & I see I’m not missing out on much. I’ll keep this Happy Meal experiment in mind when I have kids…food that doesn’t decompose isn’t natural… I wonder if ppl out here in Hollywood should take a page out of anti aging food when they make their anti aging creams!

  130. Although this may sound interesting, its not. Any food rots and decomposes if it has moisture, darkness and or the help of natures creature. The little experiment was nothing more than a dehydration experiment. If you carve an apple into a face and put it on your shelf it will be a shrunken head a year later. Not that I think McDonalds food is that great for you, this experiment is worthless and proves nothing. Lets not be stupid Americans and think everything you read on the internet is truth. Even McDonalds has some nutritional value. It not as toxic and freaky as this person makes it sound. Wake up and think.

  131. This is scientifically flawed! Where is the controlled variable?

    This is JUNK SCIENCE!!!!

  132. I live in Colorado, and it is dry here. ANY food left in a paper bag will dry, hard as a rock, but it won’t rot. Leave your food in a sealed container and it will rot and grow mold in just a couple of days; even the best hamburger bun from Sara Lee or any hamburger patty from your best organic retailer or even a homemade one.

    Junk food is not the ideal food, we all agree on that, but it could be any brand, McDonald’s isn’t the only fast food chain in the world!! This “experiment” or “observation” is just bias and only shows a simple fact about dehydrating food. I’m glad that the ants, mice and flies in your home didn’t eat your experiment.

  133. Great experiment. It’s awesome that our food production capability has improved so much that not only is food really cheap, but it lasts a long time without spoilage. Kudos to McDonald’s and all the processors along the food chain for making our lives awesome.

  134. Why not Chik fil-A? I wonder why McDonald’s always gets such a bad rap. I’ve done the math and Chik fil-A is much worse than getting a hamburger, apple dippers (w/o the carmel sauce) and white milk in a happy meal, but for some reason people think it’s healthy because it’s chicken. It’s all about choices. It you decide to get your kid a happy meal chose to make it healthy and skip the fries.

  135. Hey Nona Joann, I just wanted to applaud you in your attempts to getting kids to eat better at a young age. I really do think this is the time when we can create healthy and fit adults, so my hats off to you.

    As for this dried meal though, it is great publicity, but it isn’t scientific at all, and it isn’t correct either. McDonald’s food will rot. I have done the experiment and it can be found here: http://youarenotafitperson.com/2010/05/08/does-fast-food-rot-day-6/

    McDonalds food is bad for you because it is too high in calories. It is chock full of fats and refined carbs which are very high in calories. Add to that salt and sugar and it is a food designed specifically for our primitive taste desires. It is junk food in the same way that cake is, not because they are full of chemicals but because they are full of calories.

    In any case, keep up the good work getting kids to eat healthy foods.

  136. Look, the whole spirit of the experiment was simply to open eyes to the horrendous lack of nutrition that is in our fast food. I don’t care about whether it rots or drys, there are preservatives in fast food, there is no denying that. Anyone who chooses to believe that fast foods is anything short of “edible crap” is fooling themselves, which is fine. You’re totally allowed to believe whatever you want.

    And anyone who is upset because this is junk science is getting worked up over nothing. It’s not science! So what’s to be upset about? It’s just a fun (albeit disgusting) little anecdote. Nothing more.

    Watch Food Inc, and then see if you feel the same way about your cheeseburgers.

  137. I guess the mere existence of natural human mummies means humans are not made up of nutritious ingredients.

  138. Yeah, I like this content and the way you have written it. Some of your points are really good. Keep writing and we will keep following!!

  139. I’m female and I agree 100% with Jon #60.

  140. [...] immer vergessen habe. Um den Tab endlich mal schließen zu können: Es kann nicht gesund sein, wenn 1 Jahr altes Essen fast aussieht wie an seinem [...]

  141. For those that say this experiment isn’t evident. Rent “supersize me” and check out the special features. They took hamburgers and fries from several establishments. Put them under glass and watched them. The one from a good quality resturant started growing mold within days. Some of the other fast food ones started to deteriate over time. At 10 weeks the McD’s still hadn’t changed. Because the other foods were getting gross and smelly one of the workers tossed everything out but the McD’s at the time still hadn’t decomposed.

  142. Michael and James (and others I may have missed):
    How’s five days for you? http://www.snack-girl.com/snack/cheeseburger-take-2-day-5/

  143. I have had 1/2 of a Dunkin Donuts bagel sitting in the corner for the past 4 weeks. It is rock hard, but hasn’t grown a single spot of mold.

  144. [...] But now I’m ready to make that happen.  The breaking point for me was this post and this follow up article from Michelle.  The fact that I was eating a food that does not disintegrate or mold is [...]

  145. Great … even bugs are more clever than us not to touch (un)happy meal. Keep our children safe with real-meal

  146. organic, more expensive but more healthier. Nature show it for us

  147. Happy Birthday Wish to Happy Meal!

    I love junk food :-) I have a great tip for people who love to eat what they want but dont want to gain weight, in fact doing this will help you lose weight while eating what you love. When your hungry have whatever food you like ie: mcdonalds, simply eat it really really slow. I mean super slow! you will see why if you try it :-) I lost 7 stones eating this way!

    Great blog!

  148. Kindly consider reading the article before you blast it – I don’t see the word ‘experiment’ anywhere in the text, and the author fesses up to an arid Colorado climate in which her Happy Meal found a home.

    I think if you’re blasting this article – you may be trying to justify your once or twice a week McDonald’s splurge, and missing the point of the observation – that fast food may not be as healthy for you as regularly cooked meals, and if you over indulge, that’s when it gets dangerous.

    You cannot, by any stretch, compare aged beef with a McDonald’s hamburger. Foods have different bio-availability – which means how well the food is broken down and made available for the body to use as fuel. McDonald’s uses cheaper (yet legal) ingredients in their food, and a ton of preservatives – creating more problems than just more fat cells in the body.

    Any argument against junk food is a good one – and if this article ends someone’s dependency on McDonald’s, then mission accomplished. Anyone who hates on it, calls it BS, or attempts to debunk it as ‘liberal voodoo’ should feel free to open their own blog and create their own experiment, and then link back to this one. Something tells me if that happens, it’ll be rare.

    Happy eating!

  149. hi nona, i’m no fan of mcdonalds, fast food or big food in general. but i do want to say i’ve had similar results when keeping oranges at work. once, one got behind a computer and was dried to a perfect (smaller) version of itself and it was hard as a rock.

    i wonder what would happen if you recreated this experience somewhere else. if the result wasn’t a mummified happymeal, it would still be an interesting blog topic. especially if you had a camera set up and took a photo 2x a day.

    that would be an equal creep-out, watching the meal’s transformation…

    *****
    Yes Lisa, obviously dehydration played a part in my Happy Meal observation. What’s astounding to me is how perfect the now 16-month-old Happy Meal looks. It resembles the plasticized version of display food found in restaurants. I think that is what caught the attention of so many people. It should make us all think twice about what we are eating.
    Nonna Joann

  150. woowwwww….. great project! lol. I try not to feed my kid that plastic food either. yuck.

  151. Great article. Had a friend that was selling nutritional products do this for a trade show. It blew everybody’s mind. But I am sure it was quickly forgotten (by me as well!). I am desperately trying to find ways to feed my 2 year old something other than junk, even though he needs to gain weight and we trying to give him “junk” just for extra calories. I am quickly learning that this is not a good idea. I need to find ways to help him gain weight without feeding him this crap that the media is telling us if food! HELP!

    ***
    Be creative. Think healthy, then add calories. Here are a few ideas: Fruit smoothies (freeze some in Popsicles forms), veggies with healthy dips, cheese and whole grain crackers, apple slices dipped in yogurt and honey, chopped walnuts and raisins, whole grain organic corn chips and guacamole, make oatmeal cookies with raisins, look in the dessert section to the right for more ideas. You’ll also want to check out these two blogs: in the search box at the top of this page: Summer Food Fun and Warm Winter Snacks. Blessings, Nonna Joann

  152. I did a similar experiment for a college Biology class. I used a burger and fries from McDonald’s and a burger and fries made from scratch. I put them in identical plastic food storage containers and labeled them. They were then left in a drawer in the Biology lab. After 6 weeks, they had decomposed at a very similar rate.

  153. So.. I have a crazy story as well. A friend of mine used to collect the toys in the Happy Meals from when she was a kid. She never played with the toys, she always intended to keep them as collector’s items. Almost 30 years later, she decided to put the toys in a display case. Boy was she shocked, she found a french fry in the same bag as the toy from 30 years before. The fry looked like it had been made yesterday. It was a little wrinkled, but no mold, no decomposition. She ended up displaying the french fry with her toys. What we think is “food” is chemically altered in such a way that it is no longer food. It’s like plastic. What’s the half life on a McDonald’s fry? I thought that surely things would have changed since the 80s, but sadly it doesn’t sound like much has.

    ***
    Karen,
    You win…the Best Happy Meal story…ever!
    Nonna Joann :)

  154. Such an uncontrolled experiment.

    Why not make your own burger -same size patty, and your own fries, freshly fried from potatoes,
    put them in clean paper on your shelf, and compare?

    And then for grins, put some carrot sticks along side.

    Saltines dont change much over a year on your shelf either.

    It may be the happy meal is full of chemicals, or it may be that your office is a good space for mummification. You cant tell, from this.

  155. My son bought some McDonald’s French fries in August, 2001. He placed them in a jar on top of the refrigerator where they stayed until I threw them out eight years later. They had started to turn brown. We live in Texas in an area of extremely high humidity.

  156. OH MY GOSH.

    Gross and yuck! Thank you for posting this!! I am making the great “transition” (and dragging the family along) and it is good to see another disgusting reason why we should avoid fast food!!

  157. It would be interesting just to redo this experiment in a humid climate like here in Alabama.

  158. [...] We met the Happy Birthday Happy Meal Gal Posted September 14th, 2010 by admin and filed in Social Media Success Stories Tags: happy birthday happy meal, Social Media, viral Add a Comment Hello there! If you are new here, you might want to subscribe to the RSS feed for updates on this topic.Powered by WP Greet Box WordPress PluginOn a recent trip to Denver, CO, the InSights Group had the unique opportunity to dine with Joann Bruso, the author of the wildly popular blog post Happy Birthday Happy Meal. [...]

  159. Mcdonalds, jack in the box, burger king, they’re all good. Long story short, it doesn’t matter because you crap it out anyway.

  160. This test is valid. The extra on Supersize Me shows a regular Deli style burger and a McDonalds burger set in a glass jar. The deli or restaurant burger and fries molded and rotted within a week. The McDonalds didn’t. After 6 months it looked the same.

  161. Eating refined carbohydrates is bad. Deep fried ones are even worse. We should be getting our glucose from fruits and veggies because they come with vitamins, minerals and fibre. We should not be getting our glucose from buns, french fries, and soda, unless of course you want to go run or swim for the entire day.
    THAT is why you should avoid McDonalds.
    The fascinating condition of this food is not the result of chemically added preservatives as you might think. This food was frozen, then cooked (probably for most of the day under a heat lamp), then stored indoors in an arid climate. It was transported to its present location in a bag so that it avoided exposure to the usual fungal spores (mold).
    It had and probably still has plenty of glucose for a body to absorb, probably some protein too. It’s just dried out to the the point where you don’t want to eat it and flies physically can’t.
    For the sake of science, spray some water on it and leave it outside for animals, spores and insects to access…
    See what happens.

  162. Interesting,is there a possible lack of oxygen in the product, if so what would happen if you set the “Happy Meal” on fire? Hope someone can try this experiment with safety precautions in place & in a safe area.

  163. i just love McDs

  164. Those of you saying “Well it wasn’t scientific but still proved the point that McDonald’s isn’t nutritious!” are totally missing the freaking point.

    And the point is that that is exactly what it DIDN’T prove.

    A – McDonald’s food isn’t nutritious cause it doesn’t rot HURRRR
    B – It didn’t rot because the conditions were not conducive to decomposition. The same result will happen with ANY food
    A – Well nobody said it was scientific it was just to prove a point!
    B – What point?
    A – McDonald’s isn’t nutritious because it won’t rot! This should show you how bad it is!
    B – But we already determined that it won’t rot because of environmental conditions and not the food itself.
    A – Well whatever as long as it opens people’s eyes to how bad this stuff is for you…
    B – How does this prove anything is bad for you?
    A – McDonald’s food isn’t nutritious cause it doesn’t rot HURRRR

    Yeah, way to miss the point. And sure, it doesn’t have to be scientific in any way, shape, or form, but then all you have is a stupid “experiment” that proves absolutely nothing. If you were smart you would know that you can’t draw ANY conclusions from such an experiment. But apparently that’s what’s being said. “It’s unscientific but we can still say it proves things lulz.”

    Also I can’t believe someone actually said that your body can metabolize pencil erasers but not hamburgers. Are you freaking serious?

  165. I appreciate your efforts in getting children off of fast food, but perhaps you ought to read this and reconsider your position:

    http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2010/11/the-burger-lab-revisiting-the-myth-of-the-12-year-old-burger-testing-results.html

  166. Food is supposed decompose,but in special conditions like dryness food can be keeped for long time, i live in Spain a really dry, an arid place,by tradition drying food is also a way to preserve it. it can be done with almost everything (follow the links):
    –meat: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jam%C3%B3n_serrano
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embutido
    –Vegetables: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paprika
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun-dried_tomato
    –Fruits: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raisin
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apricot

    These are only six ,of thousands of dry-preserved foods that humanity knows.

    The fact of decomposition need a wet environment, the lower levels of humidity, the longer duration of decomposition, sometimes the water is so fastly evaporated that the object can remain invariable for very long periods of time,
    When somethig with a large amount of water in its composition loses it, it also loses lot of its volume, this is what is visible on those photographs.
    And this is why i think your happy meal just dried, so this stopped the putrefaction, we’d see very different results on a wet environment

  167. [...] We have all heard of the 12-year old burger and fries, and Joann Burso’s perfect year-old Happy Meal. Although, by far, the best test I have seen is by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt in his variable-controlled [...]

  168. This educational article helped me a lot! Bookmarked the site, very excellent categories everywhere that I read here! I appreciate the info, thank you.

  169. I was going to comment that you’d have to be very misinformed to take this test seriously, but was happy to see that many other people noted the dry climate as well.

  170. Some really wonderful info , Gladiola I found this.

  171. I am really glad i dont eat fast food.

  172. Hmmm… looks like you made yourself some beef jerky, croutons and dehydrated potatoes. Betty Crocker says you can add some milk, butter and cheese powder to the potatoes and make a nice casserole. Jack link likes to pepper and teriyaki up dried beef and package it up for snacking. Croutons are nicer if you season them and add them to a salad, but you can use them in a meatloaf or stuffing in a pinch. And remember what your Mama said,”Don’t waste food, because there are starving children in Ethiopia who would be happy to have it!!”

  173. I think that this was great proof of how nasty McDonald’s is, though me and my family don’t eat fast food anyway. We grow our own veggies :)

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  176. Oh my! This is indeed worth something. A year of keeping food on the shelf and it did not decompose at all is really freaky. I would show these pictures to my kids so that they will never ask for a happy meal again. Thank you for posting such an informative post.

  177. This is an old blog post/experiment but I’ve seen the same thing in my very humid climate with McD’s foods. (You know the burger you find in the back seat of the car months later still looking dry but pristine – or put it in the compost pile and it doesn’t decompose for months). It made us sick everytime we ate there (which was infrequently) so it’s been probably 3 years since we have bought any. However, it might be a fun experiment to get a cheeseburger and make a homemade one and do a side by side comparison for my children’s science class……

    Anyway, it made me laugh to read the comments and such. We don’t eat fast food anymore and try to limit our eating out as well. Cheers

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