Happy Meals Defy The Test Of Time : Blog Of The Nation Rarely do we keep -- and consume -- our fast-food meals past the day we buy them. But really, how long do they last? New York-based photographer Sally Davies' latest project documents one Happy Meal for 5 months. Somehow, it hasn't changed much.
NPR logo Happy Meals Defy The Test Of Time

Happy Meals Defy The Test Of Time

How old long do you think this Happy Meal has been sitting around? A day? A week? A month? bug_girl_mi/Flickr hide caption

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Let's face it -- McDonald's iconic childrens' meal hasn't received much love lately from, well, anyone who's not a kid. Parents and consumer groups are urging the fast-food behemoth to stop marketing (or even ban) the toys that accompany the meals towards kids, claiming that they lure them to eat the high-sodium chicken nuggets, fries and burgers. And, of course, there's Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign, with its eyes set on solving the childhood obesity epidemic.

Although the Golden Arches has added fruit substitutes and other health-conscious options to the meals, you can now tack another reason onto that list for refusing to buy Happy Meals, thanks to Sally Davies. The New York City-based photographer and painter is in the middle of an "experiment" with the iconic dish entitled "The Happy Meal Project". She's snapping pictures -- once a day -- of a standard hamburger Happy Meal with fries.

Today is day 144 of the project -- roughly five months in -- and not much has changed. Although pictures from day 1 through 137 are available for all to see, I'm sure the burger looks just as it did the day before today .. .and yesterday ... and so on and so forth. Notice how the meat has kept its shape and color. It's a bit dry, but still looks edible. As for the shoestring fries, they seem to be holding up, aside from the curling at the ends. But overall, there isn't any visible mold on the food.

If Davies wanted to push it to the limit, the burger and fries would probably last. A wellness educator and nutrition consultant preserved a plain McDonald's hamburger for a dozen years. And in the documentary Super Size Me, there's a bonus scene where Morgan Spurlock documents the peculiar longevity of some fries for days on end.

It kind of makes you think twice about ordering the little red box for your kids, doesn't it? Bon appetit!