Commentary

Burger King Entices With Moldy Burger, Wilting Lettuce, Rotting Tomato

If you like watching paint peel or rust form, you’re going to love a new Burger King commercial  that shows lettuce sagging and mold forming on an aging Whopper over the time-lapsed course of 34 days as Dina Washington croons “What a Difference A Day Makes” in the background.

The point of it all is in the hashtag #NoArtificialPreservatives.

“The ad starts with the traditional Whopper topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, and its special sauce with a chyron declaring that it’s Day One. The camera keeps rolling and through the inexorable march of time, the burger sits, the lettuce wilts, the tomato droops, and mold grows on the burger. The white fluff both proves that Burger King has opted to remove preservatives from its beef, while also serving as a dire warning to potential customers not to leave a burger unattended for too long lest it sprout a new topping,” reports Melissa Locker for Time.

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“the beauty of real food is that it gets ugly. that’s why we are rolling out a whopper free from artificial preservatives. coming by the end of 2020 to all restaurants in the U.S.,” BK tweeted yesterday, apparently also on a mission to eliminate capital letters from the beginning of sentences.

The product is available in more than 400 restaurants in the U.S. and will be in all of them by the end of the year, according to the company. 

“Food rot as sales pitch is novel, but it is a harbinger of where the food world is going and a nod to all of the fast-food and quick-serve chains that have made similar choices in recent years,” Laura Reiley writes  for The Washington Post.

“In September 2018, McDonald’s announced that in the United States, all classic burgers would have no artificial preservatives, no artificial flavors and no added colors from artificial sources (the pickles remain a sticky wicket; their preservatives persist), this on top of removing preservatives from chicken nuggets in 2016 and from soft serve in 2017. Panera Bread announced in 2015 that it would remove artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and sweeteners from all of its 2,000 restaurants, a goal it achieved in 2017 just after Chipotle Mexican Grill announced it had become the only national brand with no added colors, flavors or preservatives in any ingredients…,” Reiley recounts. 

“Burger King restaurants throughout most of Europe have already done away with food preservatives amid an industry-wide shift toward healthier and organic ingredients,” Chauncey Alcorn writes  for CNN Business.

“Just over half of millennials and 57% of millennial parents said they are buying more organic products now than they did five years prior, according to a September YouGov analysis commissioned by Whole Foods. A 2018 Nielsen report also found young adults are more willing to pay higher prices for products made with natural, more environmentally friendly ingredients,” Alcorn points out.

“At Burger King restaurants, we believe that real food tastes better,” Fernando Machado, CMO of BK’s parent company, Restaurant Brands International Global, states in the news release explaining the reasoning behind its display of putrescence. “That’s why we are working hard to remove preservatives, colors and flavors from artificial sources from the food we serve in all countries around the world.”

But, points out  Erica Chayes Wida for Today.com, “Burger King has a long way to go before the people in its kingdom are feasting solely on ‘real’ food. While the chain has axed artificial colors and flavors from ‘its core menu sandwiches and sides,’ many, including a bunch of burgers, chicken dishes and breakfast items, still include hard-to-pronounce ingredients and the chain has not set any timeline for when (or if) its entire menu will be free of artificial extras.”

Somewhere in the back of your mind, filed between useless sports statistics and “Seinfeld” trivia, you may recall a bit of a brouhaha over a Big Mac and fries that had not decayed over an ungodly amount of time. In fact, such stories pop up time  and again,  even in Iceland. There’s a good reason for that, and it has nothing to do with the mean temperature in the northern Northern Hemisphere. Nor does it involve the use of preservatives, McDonalds maintained   in a statement seven years ago.

“In order to decompose, you need certain conditions -- specifically moisture. Without sufficient moisture -- either in the food itself or the environment -- bacteria and mold may not grow and therefore, decomposition is unlikely…. The reality is that our burgers are made only with 100% USDA inspected beef. There are no preservatives or fillers in our patties and the only thing ever added is a touch of salt and pepper on the grill,”  McDonald’s stated.

And, as with all its fast-food brethren, a heavy splash of gusto in the marketing.

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