(Editor’s note: This story is absolutely, positively not an April Fool’s Joke)
So when the long-ago McDonald’s crew member saw a humble day-old cheeseburger from the chain that lacks an outlet within a thousand kilometers of the world’s northernmost town in a local online auction Wednesday he gobbled up the opportunity. So much so he was willing to pay 500 kroner (more than 25 times the menu price) in one of the town’s meatiest-ever bidding wars – as long as he could “have it your way.”
Haug, an electrician who moved to Longyearbyen in 2008, delivered the winning bid after the evening-long auction on a local Facebook buy/sell page, initiated by Róbert Vrabel who found himself with a McBite to spare after getting a bag of burgers from a mainland visitor.
“A friend of mine brought a special delivery yesterday and we have this one cheeseburger to share with the good people,” Vrabel wrote in his post.
Locals didn’t initially devour the rare (or, more accurately, well-done) offering, with a single bid of 20 kroner submitted during first hour. At that point Vrabel decided on a deadline for the delicacy, declaring it would be sold “to the best offer by 10 a.m. today, before it gets hard.”
Besides stimulating a few “sexual content alert!” quips in response, the bit about being hard triggered some perhaps-expected reminders about the legend/myth of McDonald’s burgers not rotting even after years. Bids limped along for another hour – 30, 35 and then 40 kroner – before Haug jumped in with a 100-kroner bid and what turned out to be the first of some spicy special requests.
“Can you send it in the mail?” he inquired.
When that didn’t get a response (insert memories of McD’s customer service at its lesser outlets here), Haug made another request that got things really cooking.
“Does the money go to charity?” he asked.
At the point others quickly jumped into the bidding, with the condition of charity. Not long after that Haug was back with his third and best-themed special request, offering “200 kroner if the money goes to the ‘hospital clowns'” (a.k.a. Sykehusklovnene, a non-profit that does indeed feature clowns visiting and entertaining kids receiving hospital treatment).
One last bidder took a bite at topping him with a 210 kroner offer, but Haug hung on with a 250 kroner bid that went five minutes without any more eager eaters when the deadline was reached.
And this time invoking the surprise one gets when looking a bag after picking it up at the drive-through window and not seeing what was expected, Haug partook in one more bit of funny business.
“Since it’s a good cause I doubled the selling price,” he wrote, attaching a screenshot of a 500-kroner donation to the hospital clowns. “Hope everyone who has the opportunity does the same.”
That proved appetizing enough fellow resident Morten Viking Sundby offered to donate “100 kroner if you publish a live video of you eating the burger.”
Haug, in an online interview a day after his satiating success, stated he still hasn’t picked up the burger from the seller yet, but promised for the extra 100 kroner he will indeed post the video of him doing the deed.
“I just thought it was funny and I don’t think that a $1 burger that has lain in the gutter for over 24 hours is was worth anything, so I bid money for a good cause,” he wrote.
While the price is probably the most anyone in Svalbard has bid at auction for a locally-offered burger from a fast food chain, it’s not going to set any world records. Among numerous well-published bids is somebody willing to pay $150 for a six-year-old cheeseburger and fries – perhaps in the belief that, like fine wine, McDonald’s food gets better with age – although eBay nixed the sale because the seller “failed to include an expiration date on what is technically a ‘food item.’”