The Bizarre Origins Of McDonald’s Former Cast Of Characters
Looking back on the entire idea of McDonaldland, though, it’s really f*cking weird. Like, were these guys on acid? To better prove my point, here are just SOME of McDonaldland’s infamous landmarks: French Fry Bushes, Filet-O-Fish Lake, Apple Pie Trees, Thick Shake Volcanoes and, of course, the notorious Hamburger Patch.
While this place does sound like heaven to the McDonald’s consumer (and future diabetics), you’ve got to admit it’s a little weird. Especially considering the fact that they’ve trashed this entire idea — including Ronald, for the most part — and have since tried to become a classy establishment. This transition seems odd, akin to when free-spirited hippies of yesteryear grew up, trashed their beliefs, wore suits and worked in finance to support their families.
McDonald’s classic commercials (which are horrific to watch now) were primarily composed on a set resembling a child’s television show with a narrator who’d explain McDonaldland’s current events, which usually involved a “villain” trying to steal a promotional food item. These plans were always foiled by McDonaldland’s resident hero and childhood terror, Ronald McDonald.
For some reason, this marketing gimmick really worked, especially with children, and sprouted various media as a result, including a child’s magazine titled “McDonaldland Fun Times” and a made-for-TV movie, “McDonaldland Treasure Island.” Video games based on the characters were also released.
But perhaps more bizarre than McDonaldland itself was its fantastical cast of characters. Want to know where the hell these bizarre creatures came from — which includes a chicken trying to sell you her offspring in an English muffin? (Trust me, you do.) See below.
Fast food’s most recognizable mascot has quite the lackluster backstory. Essentially, a man named Willard Scott, a very popular radio personality who also played a character by the name of “Bozo the Clown” on television, was approached by McDonald’s to create a character similar to Bozo but with a twist: He loved McDonald’s hamburgers. A few years after Bozo’s stint on television “Ronald McDonald, the Hamburger-Happy Clown” was born. Though this is popularly believed to be his true origins, the conceptualization of Ronald is still speculative.
Essentially, he has no whimsical backstory like the other character’s do. He is the protagonist of McDonaldland and one of the most internationally recognized characters ever.
The beloved Grimace was McDonaldland’s resident moron. Though lovable, he was initially introduced to audiences as “Evil Grimace,” a creature whose primary mission was to steal (but ultimately promote) milkshakes with his four short, handless arms.
After McDonald’s first campaign, the character was revised to a good guy in 1972, and, with that decision, his number of arms was reduced to two. Though he still favored milkshakes, Grimace became McDonaldland’s reluctant comedian and would foil many of Ronald’s plans due to his clumsy antics. He was a royal f*ckup, essentially.
As for what Grimace is, nobody really knows. Speculations range from insisting he’s a taste bud to “the embodiment of a milkshake.” To make things even weirder, the character has an Irish uncle — Uncle O’Grimacy — who first appeared in 1978 and would visit McDonaldland once a year around St. Patrick’s Day to bring his beloved Shamrock Shakes.
Hamilton B. Urglar (originally coined the “Lone Jogger”) was originally imagined as villain in 1971. Like Grimace, however, the Hamburglar was quickly re-imagined as a good guy. A good guy who liked to prank McDonaldland inhabitants and steal every burger and cheeseburger he could get his grabby mitts on. For a good guy, he was still a bit of an asshole.
But there’s more. Hamburglar’s appearance, as with his devilish tendencies, changed drastically in a year, going from a creepy, trollish old man who spoke only gibberish, to the pie-faced, ginger child we’ve come to recognize.
VERY recently, however, images released by McDonald’s depict the Hamburglar as a dreamy piece of man meat wearing very douchey attire. Nothing much has happened with this latest iteration, which was by all accounts an utter redundancy. A mistake.
Birdie The Early Bird
She was the first identifiably female character in McDonaldland and was introduced in 1980 to promote McDonald’s new breakfast items, which is kind of morbid, isn’t it? Birdie, a bird who lays eggs, was the chosen mascot to represent food that she is made from.
How Birdie made it to McDonaldland is, as with most things in this sketchy-ass town, incredibly bizarre. Get this: A giant egg mysteriously fell from the night sky one evening and into McDonaldland. Because Ronald is such a stand-up guy, he cared for the egg until it hatched. And when the egg hatched, Birdie emerged, and she was thrilled to discover Ronald’s generosity and the fact that she had made so many good friends (add to that a bevvy of man-candy) that she became a permanent resident of McDonaldland.
Created to promote McDonald’s french fries, the aptly named Fry Kids (formerly the Fry Guys, until McDonald’s got PC and introduced female characters) are brightly colored pom-pom people, I guess. It’s never really mentioned where they come from, nor do we ever hear of who their parents are. They don’t really say that much, either.
They were originally named “Gobblins” (a not-so-clever play on “Goblins”) because they’d “gobble up” other McDonaldland characters’ french fries (get it? hilarious!) and, well, yeah, that’s about it. They are totally redundant. But those french fries are damn good, aren’t they?