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Burger King Hopes Your Hatred of Preservatives Is More Powerful Than Your Hatred of Moldy-Ass Food

Plus, McDonald’s Shamrock Shake is back, and more news to start your day

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A moldy Burger King Whopper sandwich.
Burger King’s moldy Whopper is meant to signal that the chain is pulling back from artificial additives.
Screenshot: Burger King/YouTube

Burger King wants to entice customers with a time-lapse of a moldy burger

Fast food in promotional photos and commercials never really look like the actual thing — buns are pillowy rather than flat, beef patties are robust instead of limp — but in a new ad for the Whopper, Burger King pushes that dichotomy to the opposite extreme, presenting a truly disgusting burger that no one would ever hope to be served in real life.

In a new video, a Whopper is left to rot over the course of 34 days, eventually growing a thick fur of turquoise mold. The tagline, “the beauty of no artificial preservatives,” reveals the reason behind such a counterintuitive ad: Burger King is removing artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors from Whopper sandwiches in all U.S. restaurants by the end of the year. So far, artificial additive-free Whoppers are already being served in more than 400 restaurants across the nation, as well as most European countries; per CNBC, Burger King says that 90 percent of all food ingredients at U.S. locations don’t contain artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, and 100 percent of ingredients are free of MSG and high-fructose corn syrup.

Burger King’s ad is an implicit shot at its rival McDonald’s, which has long been plagued by stunts in which people claim the chain’s food doesn’t decompose (famously, a burger and fries purchased from the last McDonald’s in Iceland before it closed don’t appear to have aged since 2009). But the ad is also indicative of larger trends in fast food and dining: “artificial” is out, “natural” ingredients are in. As Insider reports, “McDonald’s switch from frozen to fresh beef for its Quarter Pounders led to a spike in its burger sales for the first time in five years.” And per CNN: “A 2018 Nielsen report also found young adults are more willing to pay higher prices for products made with natural, more environmentally-friendly ingredients.”

But, as the Washington Post points out, Burger King hasn’t named which specific preservatives it’s getting rid of, which isn’t exactly a win for public health and transparency. “Good old-fashioned added sugar and salt are causing more problems than those that have more unfamiliar names,” Lisa Lefferts, senior scientist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told the Post. “Artificial sugars, food dyes — we think companies should disclose which specific ingredients they do not permit.”

And in other news…

  • McDonald’s Shamrock Shake returns today for its seasonal reign of terror. [ABC7]
  • The Great American Baking Show, the less charming version of its British progenitor, is seeking contestants for its next season. [The Takeout]
  • Inspire Brands, the owner of Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and other chains, has filed for trademarks meant for delivery-only restaurants, suggesting that the company is looking into ghost kitchens. [Restaurant Business]
  • Cooking Mama returns with Cookstar, a new cooking-simulation game for the Nintendo Switch that acknowledges the reality of cooking in the Instagram age with a social-media component. [Polygon]
  • On the wholesomeness of Reddit’s meal prep community. [Vice]
  • Lizzo looking like a snack at the BRIT Awards:

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