Has McDonald's Ever Put Worms in Hamburgers as Filler?

A Corporate Giant Fights a Nasty Rumour

Every so often a rumour goes around that, to save money, McDonald's adds mashed up worms to its hamburgers as filler to save money on beef. A Friend recently told me that in the late 1970s and early '80's the cost of McDonald's hamburgers was very low because they added something called meal worm to it and when people began to find out, they switched to beef. That's why now the wrapper says 100% beef.

Apparently this urban legend started in 1976 when an entrepreneur farming earthworms to sell for bait boasted that he was going to become the McDonald's of worms. Things got a little misconstrued to say the least. That year McDonald's sales began to slip as the worm story went viral.

How things went viral in the 1970s.
How things went viral in the 1970s.

On 'Saturday Night Live' Jane Curtin joked that McDonald's executives deny using worms but can't explain why two halves of a Big Mac crawl away from each other in opposite directions.

All of this negative attention was certainly hurting the restaurant giant and Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald's as a corporation, couldn't bring himself to say the word, 'worms.'

Adding worms to hamburger meat doesn't make any sense as worms are more expensive. Kroc said that, "Hamburger costs $1.50 a pound and night crawlers cost $6."

So with that vicious rumour dispelled, people forgot about it but, once in a while, it resurfaces.

You can eat worms if you really want to

If earthworms are expensive, meal worms aren't a bargain either. The sale of meal worms is almost 100% for food used in the exotic pet food market. However, some people have used them in tequila.

The meal worm isn't really even a real worm. It's a darkling beetle in the larva state. If that's not enough to gross you out and you'd like to chomp down on some baby bettles, get more info here:

Soya is the only alternative

If ever a fast food chain wants to substitute beef, the only alternative would be soya. It's cheap, easy to produce, high in protein, and, above all, not gross. If McDonald's ever moves away from an all beef patty, it'll be using soya.

McDonald's is the largest chain of restaurants in the world today with about 31,000 locations. Their U.S. revenue is over 20 billion. They aren't going to pull a fast one over an unsuspecting population because they'd have too much to loose!

Comments 21 comments

Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 6 years ago from West Virginia

Thanks for dispelling this myth! I worked in a McDonald's for years and they don't make their patties there. They are frozed patties from another company--or at least they are trucked from another company.

Another myth is that the burgers don't decay. That's a myth too.

I think they are doing this to stop people from getting obese. Thing is --if this food was so bad them why haven't people--I mean lots of people died from it?

Let people eat what they want to eat and get Pharms and Government out of our food!


Mercredi profile image

Mercredi 6 years ago Author

Thanks for the comment. I've heard the non-decaying myth too. People think that it's mummified with preservatives.


ThreeFootHat profile image

ThreeFootHat 6 years ago from Chicago

I have never heard the worm myth before! I do know that McDonald's hamburgers don't taste anything like real hamburgers from a grill. That's probably one of the reasons these rumors get started!


KenWu profile image

KenWu 6 years ago from Malaysia

Despite all these things, Mc still got a lot of fans, particular the young ones!


guy 5 years ago

"Despite all these things, Mc still got a lot of fans, particular the young ones!"

Targeting kids is wrong yet many companies do it!


jus_marz143@yahoo.com 4 years ago

why do they created that worm myth to mC. Donald i think all people have tasted it already so is it true that the hamburger had a worm ?? i object because the hamburger was so yummy...


The truth 4 years ago

This is not a myth. I saw a news piece in the late 70's that showed the process of adding meal worms to the beef blend. They were ground in large stainless bowls that appeared in the range of 40 gallons or so. The McDonald's spokesperson was touting the health benefits and the fact that this was the source of a very pure protein. It was not highlighted as a cost savings measure but as a nutritional benefit.

I saw this myself. Evidently Mc D no longer thinks that was such a good idea and has effectively wiped it from history.

The Truth


OK!!! 4 years ago

YouTube it!!!! It is true that there is chemicals in it to make the burgers almost indigestable, and the fries look brand new! I haven't eaten at McDonalds in 7 years and I'm 13!!!!


Tyler 4 years ago

Never heard this worm stuff b4 but whether its true or not im never eating mcmdonds again


Gary 3 years ago

I know as a young teen during this time when the allegation were going around the test of the burger changed. I don't really like the new flavor. Go back to the worms. The burgers were actually better tasting.


Ines Delval 3 years ago

Article is incorrect, worms sure cost 6 but after that u can have a worm farm so easily that it will not be anymore 6 a pound. They multipli like rabbits. Cheaper that beef meat at the end.


Mercredi profile image

Mercredi 3 years ago Author

Thanks but McDonalds hasn't operated any worm farms!


PKL 2 years ago

worm meat is only expensive if you buy but not if you farm the worm. worm are so easy to grow. wet paper towel in a container with room temperature and let them grow. Cow takes years to grow and worm only take weeks to reach mature stage. quantity over quality all day.


Tammy 2 years ago

I remember seeing this on the local news in the early 80's..... I could not eat any hamburg for a long time


warren 2 years ago

100% beef is the name of the company who supplies to Mc D. Theres still is fillers.


me 2 years ago

well i watched on travel or one of them channels , a farmer owning a big protien worm farm big areas ofdirt in wooden box frames around the dirt. and the farmer truth truth truth said his biggest buyer is for mcd burger. he stated the fda requires so much protien in the meat and this works and is allowed. i think they do. and this is why bk can say and boost on 100% beef and mcds cant. and yes i still eat there.


jelpmac 2 years ago

You people are dumb as a bag of hammers, earthworms for fishing are about 8 bucks a container, a pound would be $78, no business spends that much for fillers. At one time, Mickey D's used TVP, texturized soy protein as a protein filler. No one ever saw a tv show with McDonald's grinding worms, period. Someone needs to just say no and stop spreading dumb rumors that can ruin a business. Actually, the first rumors started with Burger King, in 1974, not McDonald's. Reviving a rumor every few years gives the dumb arses something to talk about.


mars 2 years ago

It was not fishing or earth worms or Night Crawlers. It was meal worms which are cheap. I used to feed them to my lizards.


Johnk305 2 years ago

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johnny d 13 months ago

is it true or not


marilyn 6 months ago

i like MC Donalds hamburg but cant eat them any more since i heard about the worms .Its to bad. but is it true or not.

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