Australia bests Iceland with 25 year-old McDonald's burger

The story of Iceland's oldest and very possibly only McDonald's burger is a tale for the ages. As Popular Mechanics tells us, the country has been eerily McDonald's -free since 2009, when Ronald McDonald shut the lights of his last Icelandic restaurant. A man called Hjörtur Smárason decided to celebrate the event with a last-minute order of a burger and fries, which he then placed beneath a bell jar because he had heard McDonald's food doesn't really decay. Creepily enough, this urban legend seems to be true: For years, the meal has been worrying idle online surfers with a live stream that continues to show the decade-old junk food in seemingly pristine condition.

However, Smárason's museum-worthy McDonald's cheeseburger is far from the oldest one in existence. According to ABC, that dubious honor goes to Australia, where a McDonald's Quarter Pounder is reportedly about to celebrate its silver jubilee. The 25-year-old burger is a leftover from 1995, when two men from Adelaide saved it for a friend. The friend never came to eat it, so the pair decided to see how long the burger would last. In 2015, they rediscovered it at the back of a shed, rock-hard but still free of smell and pristine in appearance. At some point, the so-called "senior burger" even became something of an underground celebrity with its own website, Facebook page and even a Tinder profile, though they have more or less been shut down because the guys didn't have time to manage the overflowing fan response. 

How is a 25 year-old McDonald's burger possible?

Impressive as a 25-year-old McDonald's Quarter Pounder may be, its existence calls for the question: How? How can McDonald's burgers last such a disturbingly long time without succumbing to mold, bacteria or even the elements? According to some, it's because McDonald's uses all sorts of worrying preservatives. McDonald's argues that the elderly burgers have merely been stored in moisture-free spaces that have prevented decomposition, mold and bacteria, which has allowed the food to are dehydrate and dry up. Several food scientists actually seem to agree with the fast food juggernaut's low-moisture theory, though Australian nutrition scientist Tim Crowe does note that McDonald's burgers are "particularly resistant to decay" because they have so much salt. 

Still, despite the fact that it appears there's nothing particularly shady going on with McDonald's burgers, it's probably best to resist tasting the 25-year-old burger or even its comparatively fresh 10-year-old Icelandic cousin. As a McDonald's spokesman puts it, they're " by no means 'the same as the day they were purchased.'"