For many American’s, fast food has become a way to get a quick meal without having the inconvenience of stopping. There is one man who is an exception to this and his name is Don Gorske. Brian Gillie had the opportunity to speak to Gorske on Friday, Jan. 4th, 2013 to discuss his 40 year journey in which he has consumed more Big Macs than anyone in the world.
Gorske’s journey began just over 40 years ago when he made his first trip to McDonald’s. He stopped at the Fond du Lac restaurant for lunch and ordered three Big Macs, eating them all at one sitting. He then returned two more times that same day and ate six more of the sandwiches for a total of nine.
“Nine is the most I’ve ever eaten in a day. I did that a number of times when I first started eating Big Mac’s because I liked them so much,” explained Gorske. “When I was 18-years-old, I got my first car and that is when I got my first Big Mac.”
Retiring as a prison guard from the Waupun Correctional Institution in 2011, there is much more to Gorske than his 15 minutes a day eating Big Macs. He spends his mornings volunteering at a local charity and in the afternoons he writes several pen pals mostly widowers and lonely people who just need a friend.
“Almost every day I volunteer. There’s a St. Vincent de Paul store in town here and I volunteer hours there. What they do is, they make money and they turn it around and use it to help the poor people in the community,” said Gorske. “What I do is, I help price toys, VHS tapes and stuff like that. I enjoy helping them to make money to help other people.”
Gorske explains how his obsessive-compulsive tendencies have fueled a lifetime of Big Macs as well as a passion for all things McDonald’s. During his 40 years of eating the double-decker sandwich, Gorske has amassed a collection of McDonald’s merchandise so large it has taken over his home. In fact, his ultimate goal is to build a museum and let the world appreciate his collection of McDonald’s merchandise.
“The attic got full, and then the kids moved out so we started taking over the kids bedrooms as storage and stuff like that. The attic and basement are very full. I guess my dream is to maybe win the lottery one day and build a museum because I think people would be totally amazed at what somebody like me does over a 40 year period,” explained Gorske during his interview with snaptwig.com.
And for Christmas, everyone received McDonald’s merchandise, something Gorske is proud of because of his personal relationship with the fast food chain.
Gorske has only missed eating Big Macs eight days out of the last forty years, primarily because of work obligations that wouldn’t allow him to leave his post at the prison, paralleling his prison responsibilities to those of a person in the military.
A fan of all things sports, Gorske has taken his love for the golden arches along with him to sports arenas around the country. “There’s also other things that drive me. You know, I’ve eaten a Big Mac at every major league baseball park, I’ve eaten a Big Mac at every NFL football stadium and I’ve eaten a Big Mac at every NASCAR track. I’m really into sports, “explained Gorske.
In his travels, Gorske claims that he has photos of himself eating a Big Mac at Niagara Falls, The Golden Gate Bridge, the Grand Canyon and ironically in front of Las Vegas’ Heart Attack Grill.
Gorske managed to make an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show back in 1997, along with the Jimmy Kimmel Show and The George Lopez Show.
He joked about his visit to Jimmy Kimmel in which Tommy Lasorda and Mike Tyson were also guests. He told snaptwig.com that while on the show, Mike Tyson tried to intimidate him but after spending many years working in a maximum security prison, iron Mike just couldn’t scare him.
In 2008, Gorske released a book about his life as the Big Mac guy, titled “22,477 Big Macs”. Written by Gorske, the book was more of a history of his life since he was first introduced to McDonald’s four decades ago.
The thing about the book is there is a lot of pictures. I didn’t write the book to make a lot of money, I basically wrote it as a family remembrance. When I’m gone, the grandkids will say ’Well this is what grandad did’.
Gorske often signs them and hands them out to people interested in his unique story. A story that he says McDonald’s isn’t really interested in.
They say, ‘Thanks for all the free advertisin’, but they don’t go out of their way about nothing. It doesn’t bother me really. I can understand their point, if they endorse somebody like me, what happens if I had a heart attack tomorrow.
A man with a good sense of humor, Gorske parallels his life with that of Jared from Subway. He explains what happened at a baseball game he went to with his son.
“They showed Jared up on the big screen, and my kid says, ‘Dad they put him up there, why don’t they put you up there,’” said Gorske jokingly. “It was kind of funny being in the same building as Jared. He’s getting promoted for eating Subway and then there’s me.”
His cholesterol is healthy, his weight is healthy and to keep his wife from getting on him about a diet lacking of vitamins, he has agreed to eat a McDonald’s parfait once a day.
His McDonald’s habit has changed over the years and he now only frequents the restaurant twice a week to stock up on fresh sandwiches and parfaits.
“I go on Monday’s and I buy 6 Big Macs which covers 3 days and then on Thursday’s I buy 8 Big Macs which covers me for the next 4 days. So I go there twice a week for my 14 Big Macs and what I do is microwave them,” explained Gorske.
Now eating just two per day, Gorske says he ate a total of 722 Big Mac’s last year. He said he was 10 short of an even 732 or the year (Gorske pointed out that it was a Leap Year), because he only likes to eat one per day while traveling.
As the very comfortable and light-hearted conversation progressed, Gorske revealed some very interesting information about McDonald’s and the Big Mac in particular.
According to Gorske:
- The Big Mac box has changed 37 times in 40 years
- The Big Mac is on its 14th carton right now
- There were 23 short term promotions (Monopoly etc…)
- The Styrofoam container was around from 1975 to 1990
- The Big Mac was only 49 cents in 1972. It is now $3.79 at the same McDonald’s in Wisconsin.
- The current carton has been around since 2008.
In 2008, Gorske’s appetite was recognized by Guinness World Records, and he was awarded the record for “Most Big Macs Consumed”. A record that is not likely to be broken for a very long time.
For now, Gorske is just focusing on his life as a retiree and helping others. While he still enjoys his Big Macs, Gorske is not one to be defined by the food that has made him popular enough to be featured in the anti-McDonald’s film, Supersize Me.
“I don’t have a desire to become filthy rich, I’m just me. I make the most of every day,” said Gorske during the interview.
On Friday, Gorske was asked just how many Big Macs he has consumed thus far. He replied: “I ate one at noon and the other one I’ll eat around 8 O’clock tonight. So with the one I ate at noon, the number is 26, 173. I’ll have one more tonight at 8.”
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