When McDonald’s announced it would be closing its restaurants in Russia this week, at least one man’s first instinct was to stock up. A photo circulating on Reddit shows a fridge packed to the brim with the essentials: a pineapple, a drawer full of gigantic eggs, a carton of milk with the most adorable label I’ve ever seen, and, oh yeah, upwards of 50 McDonald’s burgers jammed into every open crevice.
It’s an understandable impulse considering there’s no way to predict how long Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting business closures will last (not to mention how long those burgers will last). This one fridge photo helps to sheds some light on how these sanctions are not just hitting the leaders of the country but the civilians who are caught in the middle.
What does McDonald’s closure mean for Russia?
McDonald’s has temporarily closed its 847 Russian locations in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine, a move being made by several large companies in order to, as McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said in an email to employees and franchisees, “join the world in condemning aggression and violence.” According to Enno Siemsen, a professor of operations management who spoke to Marketplace, the act is also based in psychological power, causing Russians to feel disconnected from the global community.
This feels especially true considering what the opening of the first McDonald’s in Moscow in 1990 represented for the country, as pointed out by Reuters. The Pushkin Square location of the chain opened as the Soviet Union was falling; it represented the country’s acceptance of American capitalism and effectively the end of the Cold War.
McDonald’s is, at least, appearing to acknowledge that the current global unrest is not the fault of fast food workers. The brand is still paying all employees in Russia and Ukraine despite their store’s status as well as donating $5 million to an employee assistance fund, according to Kempczinski’s email.
The demand for McDonald’s in these places has not gone away, and folks like our Reddit friend who stocked up on all they could are now turning to Avito, Russia’s version of eBay, to make a pretty penny feeding that need, The Independent reports. In one case, a meal of two burgers, two drinks, and a cherry pie was listed for 7,500 Russian rubles, or $57.
How long do McDonald’s meals last?
Many of the meals listed on Avito require immediate pickup in order to preserve the freshness of the meals. But how much does that really matter? Earlier this year, we discovered that a 12-year-old McDonald’s meal making the rounds in Icelandic museums still looked as fresh as the day it was made. In 2020, a 24-year-old hamburger and fries went viral on TikTok looking good as new.
So how long will 50 McDonald’s burgers last in one Russian fridge? If used purely as a tactic for meal planning, divvied out at a rate of three meals per day, our friend won’t have to grocery shop for about two weeks, assuming he’s willing to take a chance on ingesting some old burger meat (the USDA says three to four days is the ideal shelf life of cooked beef).
If he’s simply holding onto them as fodder for the next viral video, well, that depends on the conditions. Our readers have pointed out in the past that dry conditions are key to these freakishly preserved McDonald’s burgers; a dry sandwich with no moisture leaching in via condiments or cheese is more likely to stay pristine than, say, a Big Mac. In any case, so many people seemed to have wondered about the food’s staying power that McDonald’s was apparently compelled to create a page on its website titled “Response to myth that McDonald’s burgers do not decompose.” The page reads in part:
In the right environment, our burgers, like most other foods, could decompose...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.
Based on this and the assumption that the burgers in question may also feature lettuce, cheese, and other ingredients quick to spoil, it’ll be best to eat this stockpile sooner rather than later. Or the person in question could always take the advice of the Reddit commenters and turn this into a business opportunity, cashing in on a universal love for McDonald’s.