Icelands last McDonalds cheeseburger still perfectly preserved after 13 years
If you live in the UK, you potentially have access to some 1300 McDonald's restaurants and takeaways.
But not everyone is so lucky. Iceland’s last Maccy D’s closed in 2009 amid the global financial crisis and there’s just one of the chain’s popular cheeseburgers left in the country — and it’s in a museum.
The perfectly-preserved snack was originally saved by accident, but went on to be exhibited in the National Museum of Iceland before finding a permanent home at Snotra House in the south of the country.
Hjörtur Smárason bought the “historic” cheeseburger on October 30 2009, one day before the last McDonalds in Iceland closed its doors.
He put it aside, but then forgot about it until he was moving house in 2012. In his garage, next to some boxes containing tools, some old roller blades and other odds and ends lay the burger – apparently as good as the day it left the restaurant.
“It looked like I bought it just 15 minutes earlier,” he says.
“And the same with the fries, it all looked almost new. Just turned cold on the way home.”
While most people might have just chucked it out, Hjörtur decided to preserve the last cheeseburger in Iceland for posterity.
“This was now like a historical artifact that belonged to Iceland,” he said.
“The last McDonald’s burger in Iceland. And what do you do with a historical artefact? You put it in a museum.”
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Kristín Loftsdóttir, a professor of anthropology at the University of Iceland, says the sixteen-year period when Icelanders could get a McDonalds represented a special time in the country’s history:.
She told Atlas Obscura: “I have suggested that the consumption [by] the Prime Minister of the first McDonald’s at its opening can be interpreted as a symbolic sign at the time for Iceland’s entry into a more globalised modern world."
The Icelandic cheeseburger isn't the only vintage McDonalds exhibit. Two Aussie blokes claim to have an even older McDonald’s cheeseburger.
Casey Dean and his mate Eduard Nits bought a huge bag of Maccy D’s back in 1995 when fast food was still an exciting novelty to teenage boys in Australia.
The feast ended up being too much for them and a left-over cheeseburger ended up in a box filled with old junk in Eduard’s sister’s shed and was forgotten about it until 2015.
Eduard says when he rediscovered the burger, it was as good as new: "The rats had eaten through the garbage bag, through the clothes, through the box and got to the burger and they left it."
A McDonald's spokesman did not dispute Casey and Eduard's burger being the oldest – bust said there is a "simple explanation" for why it had not formed any mould.
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"The reason why our burgers sometimes don't go mouldy when left out at room temperature, in a dry environment, is that once the food is cooked there isn't enough moisture to support bacterial growth to break it down," they said.
"Instead, it simply dries out."
The spokesman added the best time to enjoy a McDonald's meal is when "it's hot and tasty".
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