Old McDonald had a … fry?
And so, too, did the Jones family after they discovered that the 63-year-old home they purchased seven years ago in Crystal Lake, Illinois came with a side of vintage fries.
Grace and Rob Jones bought their house in 2015. It wasn’t a fixer-upper per se, but it was dated, and they knew going in it would require gradual updates to its structure and rooms. What the couple didn’t expect was to find an old Happy Meal in its walls.
On April 16, while renovating the house’s kitchen and bathroom, Rob got to work on removing a built-in toilet paper holder that came with the house. “It was actually kind of hard to remove. I had to pull out some chisels and pliers really yank on it because it was stuck in like old plaster,” Rob told TODAY Food. “So as I was doing that, I (could) kind of see through one of the corners some sort of cloth or something in there.”
While pulling out the bundled mass of cloth, Rob (a true-crime connoisseur) considered the potential for something grim to be stumbled upon — perhaps even a body part.
“You read those kind of stories,” Rob explained. “People hide stuff in their walls.”
Not wanting to make the discovery alone, he called over his wife. When he pulled back the cloth, the two found that the macabre had turned to McGrub. Inside were two McDonald’s hamburger wrappers and a side of neatly preserved french fries, to be exact.
“We just kind of assume whoever was building the house probably went there for lunch, and it fell in there or they did it on purpose,” Rob explained.
It’s not every day fast food can offer up a trip to yesteryear, but the old wrappers and fries are quite the time capsule. For starters, all three of the paper wrappers feature Speedee, McDonald’s first mascot who predates both Ronald McDonald and the company’s iconic Golden Arches, which were designed in 1962. Today, the image of Speedee (so named to emphasize the restaurant’s swift service model) can be seen at a long-running franchise located in Brewer, Maine.
According to Grace, the find has been a blast from the past for her mother, who grew up in Des Plaines, Illinois. It was there that the first McDonald’s to be opened by Ray Kroc in April 1955 was located and her mother was apparently around to bear witness to it.
“She was at the grand opening when they opened it,” Grace explained. “So she’s been so excited because it’s bringing her right back to when she was a kid there … She can still rattle off how much the cheeseburger was when it opened and how much the fries were and all that.”
According to the news clippings printed in the Crystal Lake Herald and provided to TODAY by the McHenry County Historical Society & Museum, a McDonald’s opened the same year the Jones family home was originally built in 1959 and existed a half-mile away.
Soon after making the find, Rob shared images of the old wrappers and fries on the r/mildlyinteresing subreddit. According to users on the page, there’s an unofficial long-running competition for the oldest McDonald finds inside of walls, and the Joneses are currently on top. In fact, there’s a trove of people who have an appetite for holding onto old McDonald’s orders, which have sparked curiosity over whether or not the chain’s burgers rot or decompose.
McDonald’s has responded to these myths in the past. In 2020, the chain issued a statement that underlined how its burgers are “made only with 100% USDA inspected beef” and that its patties, “like most other foods, could decompose in the right environment.”
As right environments go, the Jones family has their time capsule McDonald’s meal sealed in a container and set on top of their fridge for now.
“For the right price, we’d be happy to sell them otherwise,” Grace explained. At the same time, her husband mused over the likelihood he would eat the decades-old leftovers.
“Maybe MrBeast would want to have me do one for a million dollars or so,” he quipped.