I can accept that tomatoes grow mold. Bread? That seems reasonable, too.
But I cannot accept that the months-old (and still in the package!) All American "Fun" Burger Mallow Giant Size Burger I've been aging at the bottom of a utility drawer in my kitchen since I purchased it on a road trip last summer has now sprouted a light dusting of tiny green spores.
I had thought that, not unlike an '83 Château Margaux, an All American "Fun" Burger would grow better with age. I had assumed that, kept in a cool, dark place and occasionally riddled, its sugars would mellow. I'd thought that over time their initial artificial strawberry-flavored tooth-shattering sweetness would become more concentrated, transforming the burger into a jammy and voluptuous treat.
But there it is: My All American "Fun" Burger is corked.
Clearly, quality control is an issue for the makers of the All American "Fun" Burger. Its packaging tells me that my burger, no doubt crafted by artisanal hand at Kandy Kastle Inc., holds a 2005 copyright. That's not to say that my moldy All American "Fun" Burger was molded nearly three years ago. But I do take it to mean that the packaging design is less than three years old, and so, I'll presume, is my burger a mere babe in the world of aged foods.
The only other clue my ("(Low Sodium" (!) "(Cholesterol Free" (!) "(Fat Free" (!)) All American "Fun" Burger offers about its provenance is a Lot Number: 6293M.... Unfortunately, that's only part of the lot number; all my riddling must have obscured the last digit (or letter).
Still, I have a hard time believing that sugar, the primary ingredient in an All American "Fun" Burger Mallow Giant Size Burger, is susceptible to the ravages of age. Perhaps it's the glucose syrup that's failing. I've discounted water, the third item on the ingredients list, but I am suspicious of items four and five: "Gelatine" and "Corn Starch."
But as I yank the All American "Fun" Burger from its clear plastic packaging, identifying the faulty ingredient recedes in importance. The ensemble of a bun-shape piece of sugar, a slice-of-cheese-shape piece of sugar and a hamburger patty-shape piece of sugar maintains the ripe firmness that attracted me to the All American "Fun" Burger so many months ago.
In addition to its shroud of mold, the burger has developed an irregular pattern of troubling brown spots that mar the bun and cheese sugars.
So I can't tell you how relieved I was when, biting into the All American "Fun" Burger, I was met with an overwhelming wave of artificially strawberry flavor that obliterated any hint of rottenness.
OK, maybe "relief" isn't exactly what I felt, but at least my burger didn't taste like a bottle of wine that's turned to vinegar.
And that's saying something, because there's nothing worse than a wine that's past its prime.