You never know what might be lurking just behind your walls or beneath your floorboards. We’ve seen it countless times on HGTV: sometimes below that hideous shag carpet there’s pristine hardwood flooring, and sometimes taking out an unnecessary wall reveals lots and lots of mold. But other times, what is found just might be—or might have been—delicious. From old fast food wrappers to untouched beer to entire restaurants, these strange, uncovered artifacts provide some insight into our storied culinary past. What follows are eight edible discoveries in the unlikeliest of places.
Perfectly preserved bag of McDonald’s
Of all the places to find a bag of fries, right next to the toilet is probably one of the least appetizing. More nauseating still would be if that bag of fries were more than 60 years old. Such was the case for the Jones family, who, as NBC News reported earlier this year, found a perfectly preserved order of fries and two empty hamburger wrappers in the wall behind their toilet paper holder when doing some renovations.
The home, which is in Crystal Lake, Illinois, sits just 30 miles or so from Des Plaines, Illinois, where Ray Kroc opened the first McDonald’s franchise outside of California (though this meal likely came from the franchise that opened a half mile from the house in 1959). The Joneses decided to hold onto the pieces of history, keeping the fries in a Tupperware container out of reach of their children so the ancient spuds don’t get eaten.
Bottles of 100-year-old beer
Maybe finding old cans or bottles of beer in a former brewery isn’t the most surprising find, but when the beer dates back to 1903, that’s officially fit for historic study. In 2019, workers doing construction on the old Odin Brewing building in Denmark, which closed in 1988, discovered a collection of beers hidden under the floorboards, BBC reported.
The beer was left in a box with a note from CE Pehrsson, the brewery’s master brewer at the turn of the 20th century. The note said that the brewery had just laid down a new floor and “as we don’t know how long it will last, these words and some bottles of the beer that we brew nowadays will be placed under the floor.” There were seven bottles total (in the Prinsens Bryg, Odin Pilsner, and Viborg Pilsner varieties), though only five still had beer in them—the other two were initially corked, but the corks broke down, causing the beer to evaporate. No word on whether anyone sipped on any of the brews.
17th-century shopping list
There’s just something a little different about the way people wrote grocery lists 400 years ago, as proven by a spectacular find from under the floorboards of a historic English home. The beautifully scribed piece of paper dates back to 1633 and was discovered during a multi-million-pound renovation of a house in Kent, England, according to Smithsonian Magazine. Not only is the handwriting gorgeous, but the list itself reads like a poem:
Mr Bilby, I pray p[ro]vide to be sent too morrow in ye Cart some Greenfish, The Lights from my Lady Cranfeild[es] Cham[ber] 2 dozen of Pewter spoon[es]: one greate fireshovell for ye nursery; and ye o[t]hers which were sent to be exchanged for some of a better fashion, a new frying pan together with a note of ye prises of such Commoditie for ye rest.
Your loving friend
Greenfish, two dozen pewter spoons, and a frying pan. What more could you need?
Housewarming bottle of Scotch
It was only a matter of time before these sorts of finds started ending up on TikTok, and contractor Craig Harrigann shared a doozy last year. While lifting up kitchen floorboards he and his team found a bottle of Glenkinchie Scotch and a note written right onto the floor itself: “Jack and May lived here — three kids and a dog. Kitchen done up during April and May 2001. All the best, have a drink on us!” And according to Harrington, it ended up being a sentimental find for the homeowner.
“I called the customer in to show her and she said it was her mum and dad’s old house that she recently bought and the note was written by her dad. She was one of the three kids,” Harrington said to the Daily Record. “So we cut the section of floor out and gave her it to keep along with the bottle.” Thanks for the drink, Dad. Cheers!
Ancient Chinese soup
Back in 2010, an entire tomb was being excavated during construction on an extension of the airport near China’s ancient capital of Xian, BBC reported. Inside that tomb? A sealed bronze cooking vessel filled with bone soup. Archaeologists believed the soup to be at least 2,400 years old, along with another sealed vessel filled with what was believed to be wine.
Scientists ran several tests on the soup to determine the ingredients, concluding that it was in fact the first discovery of bone soup in Chinese archeological history.
Old Hamm’s beer and Godzilla Heads gum
Who among us doesn’t search around in library stacks looking for the book that might reveal a secret passageway or other mysterious clue? Well, if you don’t, maybe you should start, because back in 2020 a whole stash of Hamm’s beer was found hiding in the stacks when a Walla Walla, Washington, library underwent some renovations. While the Hamm’s logo that we know and love today isn’t much different from cans of the past, what really dated these brewskis was a companion snack: Godzilla Heads gum. That stuff was only around in the late ’80s, so it’s safe to say the whole stash had been there for a while.
Ancient Roman peach pits
There’s really so much more buried under major cities than we know, and this is especially true in areas where ancient civilizations once thrived. In 2018, NPR reported on the discovery of a seemingly never-ending collection of ancient ruins in Rome when work on a subway expansion began. But instead of sending the items off to a museum or leaving them buried, archeologists incorporated them into the subway line so travelers can reflect on the history built into their commute—essentially, the subway itself is the museum.
Among the items being preserved are some of the usual suspects: marble busts, frescoed walls, intricately painted plates. But perhaps the most unusual items getting the curatorial treatment are several ancient peach pits from a Roman fruit vendor.
Time capsule Burger King
There’s finding an old fast food wrapper behind a wall, and then there’s finding a whole dang fast food restaurant. The latter happened in a mall in Delaware when an HVAC worker spotted a perfectly intact Burger King from the 1980s hidden behind a wall, appearing to be nothing more than storage or an abandoned storefront, TODAY reports. There was even still trash in the trash cans that could have been from as far back as 2009 when the location closed.
A photo of the fast food location’s interiors went viral, hitting the nostalgia factor hard among those who remember the very distinct designs, right down to the too-long message on the flap of the garbage can. It’s only a matter of time before the mall cashes in and revives it as a cool, Instagrammable retro Burger King. At least, that’s what we’d do.