I'm on the fence whether this is a good story or a bad story about the food at McDonald's. But I'm pretty sure it's a bad story about eBay.
It starts in 2012, with a McDonald's cheeseburger and fries. Then, six years pass, as the fast food meal sits on a shelf at the home of a Canadian farmer and podcaster named Dave Alexander.
The burger still looked pretty good, actually--nothing you'd ever dream of eating, of course, but pretty much the same except that it had lost all of its moisture. And the fries looked "like they were purchased this morning," Alexander later said.
So while it sat there as an experiment--or maybe, partially, a weird piece of performance art--it wasn't until recently, as he planned to move, that Alexander decided to do something with it.
That something: list it on eBay, for $29.99. Where people did in fact start bidding for a six-year-old cheeseburger:
"ORIGINAL, plain McDonald's Cheeseburger and Fries MADE & PURCHASED JUNE 7, 2012," was the headline on eBay.
And he drummed up interest (and pumped up the bids) by tweeting about it.
I'm selling my 6 YEAR OLD McDonald's Cheeseburger & Fries! You KNOW you want to buy them! https://t.co/299KSi8ZKV Get your own piece of undying history today!! Originally Purchased June 7, 2012 @cbcasithappens @oneredpaperclip @CTVKitchener @TheEllenShow-- Dave Alexander (@RWTFarm) July 5, 2018
Of course, he was careful to tag Canadian news organizations like the CBC and CTV, along with The Ellen Show. And media responded.
So did ordinary people, driving the bidding up and up, to as much as $150.
"The burger itself has darkened a little bit. The bun is about as hard as a hockey puck," he said in one interview. (Remember: Canadian. They're like, really into hockey.)
And then--as seems to happen with so many of the most interesting things that go viral on eBay--eBay shut the auction down.
Apparently, the terms of service provide that if you want to sell food on eBay, you have to "include the expiration date and explain how you'll deliver the item safely without spoilage."
Obviously, that's hard to do with a six-year-old cheeseburger.
"We're just stunned. I can't fathom what these people are thinking," Alexander told the Canadian radio show As it Happens. "A six-year-old cheeseburger? You've got to be kidding me that it needs an expiry date."
So, I guess Alexander won't be getting rich from a McDonald's purchase. He got a few minutes of fame out of it, though.
My advice? Try a class-action lawsuit. Those seem to work better.