Conventional wisdom states that a nuclear apocalypse would leave two things on the planet Earth: cockroaches and Twinkies. To this equation, however, I feel obliged to add a third item: McDonald's hamburgers. As any fan of the double arches can attest, McDonald's burgers have a tendency to hover in the stomach, undigested, for a disturbingly long period of time. That, however, hardly qualifies them for Twinkie and cockroach status. After all, between Twinkies' incredible slate of preservatives and the cockroach's ingenious design, we're probably talking about the most impressive preservation technology imaginable. How could the humble McDonald's hamburger possibly compete?
Consider this: Karen Hanrahan, an Illinois educator and nutritional consultant, has
a twelve-year old McDonald's hamburger that has yet to decay. After she purchased the burger in 1996, Ms. Hanrahan removed the meat from the bun and stored both parts in a cupboard in her house, occasionally taking them out to show to her various classes. While the bun has apparently become hard, it has not developed mold, nor has it been attacked by flies, ants, or other vermin. Meanwhile, the meat is shriveled but still recognizable.
There is some question about whether the burger's impressive longevity is due to preservatives, poisons, or merely McDonalds' state-of-the-art cleaning program, which keeps bacteria out of the restaurants. Regardless, I'd argue that Ms. Hanrahan has made it pretty clear that McDonalds' burgers are likely to last for the duration!