VIRAL WHOPPER: Burger King’s Aging Hairy Gross-Burger


The recently viral Whopper campaign is certainly not pretty to look at. I can think of a few things I would preferably expose my eyes to; gall-bladder surgery has to be more fun to watch than a burger growing what looks like greenish-yellow armpit hair. 

Yet, here we are with the millionth voice to dissect the viral hairy gross-burger… a smaller scale urban-decay Chernobyl burger (without the awful fallout of the “friendly atom” to contend with).

I think my millennial friends would refer to it as a “take.” The millionth “take” on a question no one really wanted the answer to, what becomes of a Whopper that’s allowed to far exceed its average life expectancy. 

The campaigns made me think immediately about the slew of “selfie everyday for X years” that was a big viral hit a awhile back. Only in the BK macabre, Whopper version we see the selfie far longer than we need to.

Going viral can be difficult, so a repugnant viral whopper is still a win for BK, right?

Outside of the almighty virality, I get what Burger King is going for here. That BK burgers aren’t juicing. Their burgers aren’t souped-up on preservatives or magic potions that would entrap Goldie Hawn or Meryl Streep in that pre-Gump Zemeckis movie.


The King is making it clear that the company is ditching artificial preservatives. The ad wants to show us the naked truth of a Whopper’s march into the abyss (a similar journey we all begin to trod at birth towards our absolutely inevitable grim demise). BTW, I say “want to show” because I’m a little dubious on how perfect the Whopper looks after its construction, but more on this later. 

With the passage of time displayed in white font, we flash through a time-lapse as the burger ages and is overrun with mold, shrinkage, and what looks like green-mold zits. 

burger king's viral walking dead whopper grossburger

By the time we reach the tagline, the viral Whopper is terrifying; the slogan claims that this is “the beauty of no artificial preservatives.” 

They are speaking to someone who occasionally grabs a fast burger, yet still wants a sandwich that wouldn’t survive the rapture. IE: A lunch that’s kinda’ fresh… Fresh-ish. IE: I don’t want the last McDonald’s burger sold in Iceland. 


Hjörtur Smárason was the last dude to buy a McDonald’s cheeseburger and did what anyone of us would; seal it into a goddamn sandwich bag for three years.

What? You haven’t heard of the last McDonald’s hamburger sold in Iceland? The burger recently turned 10. It is accompanied by a fraternal twin of sorts… A carton of fries that look like they may have just come out of the fryer. They’re both over a decade old.

The infamous cheeseburger would only need to be oversized and on a US Highway somewhere in Michigan for it to be a roadside attraction. It once even had its own live-feed. Don’t fret you can still take a selfie with it if you are ever near Þykkvibær.

And I’m not hating on McDonald’s or anything I’ve already professed my undying love for that endearing McRib Monstrosity.


Speaking of aging burgers on purpose, I tried something very similar when I was young in military school and hopelessly naive about food poisoning. Look, we didn’t get out to McDonald’s very often, so fast food was basically crack. You could buy a sack of regular hamburgers (priced around 91¢ in the early 90s) and flip them for $1-2 more on campus. 

On one of my rare trips to McDonald’s, I bought five Big Macs. The plan was to eat one and sell the rest at a considerable markup and make a boatload of cash (by Military School standards). I could sell each of the Big Macs for $5 a pop on campus (they cost a little over $2 at McDonald’s).

I wound up engorging two of the Big Macs without breaking a sweat. Then I got greedy; I decided to save the Big Macs for later. It didn’t bother me that I had no way of refrigerating them. I lined them up in an empty tackle box underneath my bed.

It was late-spring, which in South Carolina isn’t exactly known for being a mild season. And as it was, the dorms didn’t have air condition. I was an idiot.

A week went by, the last Big Mac still looked great, so I ate it. The Big Mac could have won Miss America compared to the final throes of the giant sub Homer refused to throw away on the Simpsons. But the ending was the same. I got very sick that night, sweating and freezing in a dorm room that still had to be around 80 degrees with the window open and a fan pumping in outside air.

I wound up spending a few nights in the infirmary after that. To be more precise, I spent a few days splayed across the infirmary’s toilette, grasping towards my ankles, saying small prayers. It was not fun.


I did learn a valuable life-lesson, you may not die after food poisoning, but you may wish you had. Or so I thought at that time when I was young and had no gall stones.

gall bladder stones comic by

Some 20 years later, a doctor told me I had gall-stones (unrelated to those aged Big Macs, btw), and I might need to have surgery. To hell with that, I thought, I can deal with pain.

Little did I know I was in store for excruciating stomach pains and lower back pains at the exact same time. There were sleepless nights where I would zombie-walk my apartment moaning until 5am before collapsing on the couch for two hours of sleep.

In my late-thirties, I learned another gastrointestinal life lesson: If your doctor suggests you have your gall bladder removed, take her up on that shit as fast as you can. They have a lot of tests they will want to go through before you eventually get that sweet, sweet surgery. 

Start checking off your gall-bladder removal checklist, now.

the day i woke up without a gall bladder, no viral whopper for me that day
The, I just woke up after losing gall bladder, face


Look, the only significant ding I have on the ad is the burgers you are handed from fast food spots never look as pretty or as full as the pre-time-lapse construction. So how can one believe anything else in this Whopper time-lapse?

At this point, we should all be reasonably aware of how food photographers use Elmar’s Glue as the milk to make cereal look beautiful on box covers. Glue as milk is well-established dad-trivia 101.

“You know that’s glue, right?” My father said, pointing to the blue box of cereal I was reaching for perched in the cereal aisle just out of my reach. It was my new favorite breakfast, Crispix, and as it was the early 1980s, I was still extremely short, dumb, and trustful.

“It’s not glue, dad, it’s Crispix.”

“You see how good the cereal looks in that milk,” he was handing me the box pointing oversized Crispix on a spoon embraced in milk. It looked delicious. “The milk is glue, that’s how they’re able to take such a great photo of the cereal with the drop of milk below the spoon.”


I was revolted and had enough of that shit. So I replaced the Crispix and started off toward the Life cereal. Pre-10 me was far too young to have that veil of deception ripped off like that, I almost certainly still believed in Santa Claus. Life cereal was the safer choice.

crispix and life and other cereals used glue for milk on their box covers
Glue-Milk (Ebay, RetroDaze, Kelloggs, Quaker)

“Where are you going?” Dad was following me as I pulled my beloved, all-time favorite Life cereal off the shelf. Life cereal was famous; it had TV commercials my father would continuously reference when he was urging me to try some kind of new food, whether breakfast, lunch, dinner, whatever. 

I was Mikey, especially around my twin sister, who had issues eating the random overcooked meat chunks my parents would put in front of us for dinner, “see, Mikey likes it,” they would say as I ate. I didn’t like the meat chunks, but I cherished showing up my twin, and I just as equally loved pleasing my parents.

In my mind Life was established; it wouldn’t need to use glue to milk-lie.

“You know that’s glue on the cover, too, right?” My father, trying to ruin everything that day.


Burger King showcases these types of tricks at the beginning of the time-lapse. Displaying how food photographers make burgers look more beautiful for their glamour shots. Yet, how does copping to these deceptive food beauty tricks, in the beginning, solidify the rest of the ad as entirely truthful?

the Whopper being preened for it's close up glamour shot
Preening the Viral Whopper (Composite: Burger King)

No one ever handed me a Whopper as pretty as the viral whopper’s starting position. It doesn’t matter if I am picking up at the drive-thru or dining in. 

If Burger King really wanted to show the naked truth from start to finish, they should have gone to a local BK and picked up their starting point, viral Whopper, there. Have one of their many nationwide employees, who should be experts at creating a baseline Whopper, do the honors.


In the end, I’m positive Burger King is on to something here, regardless of the seared-in mental image of the viral, walking dead whopper.

Personally, their ad has filed itself into my brain in a very subliminal fashion. This week while on my way home, I entertained picking up a Whopper. It was late-ish, and I didn’t feel like preparing anything when I got to our house.

Hey, the Burger King ad proves the Whopper wouldn’t survive Armageddon, why not pick that up? I thought. I don’t want to order a hamburger that could outlive me.

On the other hand… Iceland’s last McDonald’s cheeseburger will probably last long enough to witness the demise of the human race. And then it will wait for the rise of the next dominant Earth creature. This new dominant creature will almost certainly count the Rosetta Stone and the pre-mummified animal meat between two slices of sponge as significant discoveries.

Do you still have a gall bladder? How’d you feel about the walking dead Whopper? Let me know in the comments.

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