When he was 10 years old, Don Gorske told his dad that when he grew up, he was going to eat at McDonald’s every day of his life.
His local McDonald’s, where his picture is on the wall and he’s greeted by name, celebrated with a sign on its marquee.
Gorske’s explanation for his unusual habit is as simple as it is sincere. “The first time I had one, I thought it was just the best food ever,” he says. And so he kept eating them. And eating them. He swears that each one — the double stack of beef patties complemented by cheese and the chain’s special sauce — is as good as the first. “I never get tired of them,” he says.
Gorske’s status as a superfan is official: The Guinness Book of World Records first recognized him in 1999 for the most Big Mac burgers eaten in a lifetime, 15,490. Guinness updated his title in August, when his count reached 32,340.
Gorske — who was interviewed in the 2004 documentary “Super Size Me,” in which filmmaker Morgan Spurlock ate McDonald’s for a month and catalogued its ill effects — insists that the habit hasn’t affected his health. He never goes to the doctor, he says, but has his cholesterol level and blood pressure checked regularly, and both are good.
He sees his habit as a gift to his wife, a nurse practitioner who doesn’t share his diet but has never had to cook for her husband. The stove in their kitchen “looks just like the day we got married in 1973,” he says.
Besides his beloved Big Macs and Cokes, he eats healthfully. The day before, Gorske had eaten two Big Macs, one for lunch and the other at dinner, with some asparagus from the garden his wife tends in their yard. He ate a banana for an evening snack. He almost never orders fries and eats little else, he says.
He also walks a lot, he says, and stays active, helping his son at the signmaking shop where he works. He also writes letters, many to the widows and widowers of the fellow officers he worked with as a prison security guard for 25 years.
“I don’t have enough hours in the day,” he says.
Other letters he pens are to people he has met because of his devotion to the Big Mac. He became pen pals with a fellow fan in Melbourne, Australia, who sends him cartons from Down Under. Another in Germany does the same. And then there are the gifts, or the “treasures,” as he describes them: A pair of Ronald McDonald clown shoes. A vintage McDonald’s straw dispenser. An old Ronald McDonald doll that an older man he’s never met gave him before he died.
These he adds to the memorabilia he has collected over the decades that now fills the attic and basement of his home, including the packaging from his favorite sandwich, showing the changes to the graphic design over the years. He marvels at the connections he’s made, all because of a fast-food burger.
“It’s really touching,” he says. “I’m appreciative that people think my hobby is cool enough that they want to reach out.”