ST. GEORGE - David Whipple, a St. George resident, is about to gain nationwide recognition for his well-preserved 13 1/2-year-old hamburger.
“The pickle has disintegrated, the bun looks unbelievable but it’s hard as a rock,” Whipple said, “the hamburger looks good, there’s no fungus, no mold, no nothing,”
David Whipple purchased what he touts as the “World’s Oldest Hamburger” on July 7, 1999, at a fast food restaurant in Logan for a mere 79 cents. At the time, he did so to show fellow-dieters how enzymes work and carried it around with him for about a month.
“Live food has enzymes and they disintegrate, you would think that the hamburger would,” he said, but it didn’t.
The hamburger, along with its receipt, original wrapper and paper bag, ended up forgotten in his coat pocket in the trunk of his car through the summer in Cache Valley. It then made its way into a closet in the Whipples’ home and, more than five years later, one of Whipple’s seven children found the hamburger in the closet. Unwrapping it, the family was shocked to discover that it still appeared to be in the same condition as when he had purchased it.
The hamburger remained little more than an interesting topic of conversation among family and friends until it was eight or nine years old and another of David Whipple’s children decided to list it for auction on eBay. Bids flooded in, peaking at $2,000 before the auction was canceled due to a prank bid placed by one of the Whipples’ daughters. They decided to keep it.
As the hamburger aged, its fame grew. Whipple said it has been shown at schools, a healthy eating convention and has also survived a few close calls by hungry fans, including a Washington, D.C. radio personality who offered to buy it for several thousand dollars and eat it at a promotional event. Due to legal issues and potential health risks, that plan never came to fruition.
Whipple and his hamburger’s recognition soared to an entirely new level in the past week, when his hamburger came to the attention of Paramount-CBS. He was invited to appear on The Doctors, a Paramount CBS syndicated television talk show; and FedExed the hamburger to the producers on their assurance it would be returned to him without any damage to its integrity.
Appearing himself by phone, Whipple was interviewed by the doctors on the show before a live studio audience on Wednesday. The feature will air in an upcoming episode about how long you can store food in your homes. Nick Jones, head of CBS public relations for the show, said
“The Doctors” airs Monday through Friday at 9 a.m. in St. George on KTVX. The episode including Whipple and his hamburger has not yet been scheduled.
David Whipple said that the hamburger has stumped even the show’s medical experts.
“The doctors wanted to check it with a microscope to see if there is anything living in it,” he said. “I was talking to Michael Lucas, the associate producer, … he screamed, he said ‘I had no idea it would look this good, this thing is like a celebrity,’” and that its reputation rapidly drew attention from people throughout his building at Paramount.
David Whipple has lived in St. George for 12 years, has seven children with his wife, Bev Whipple, and they have 21 grandchildren.
” I’ve been a corporate bank officer, hospital controller and right now I actually do a cooking show,” David Whipple said. But since surviving a bout with cancer in 2010, he is now seeking a bachelor’s degree in communication at Dixie State College of Utah.
Though he is a lifelong promoter of dieting and healthy eating, David Whipple said that the perplexing hamburger has not scared him away from hamburgers.
“I’m not bashing hamburgers or pizza by doing this,” he said. “I think if people eat hamburgers, what’s wrong with that?” He does recommend people not eat hamburgers three meals a day and that they eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
As for the future of his “World’s Oldest Hamburger,” which has never been refrigerated in its 13 1/2 years of existence, David Whipple has no plans to sell or eat it. Aside from potential public appearances – he said he’s thinking about “taking it on the road” – it will likely remain in its home of some time, a hamburger-design protective tin case that he purchased on eBay.
Always thinking ahead, David Whipple also purchased a stock of Twinkies upon learning they would be discontinued in November 2012
“Who knows? Maybe one day they too will become family heirlooms,” he said.
Anyone with questions and comments on Whipple’s “World’s Oldest Hamburger” is invited to contact David Whipple at firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. George News staff reporter Alexa Verdugo Morgan contributed to this story.
Ed. Note: St. George News verified the hamburger is currently at Paramount CBS studios but has not undertaken to examine it directly.
Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc., 2013, all rights reserved.