Remember All Those Weird Old McDonald’s Characters?
If you’re a 90s kid, you very likely have distinct memories of birthday parties at McDonalds. The plastic yellow booths and the milkshakes and hamburgers and fries (before we all stopped eating McDonalds) and of course… the McDonalds characters.
But have you ever given any thought to the characters? Like… what are they? Why a weird, ginger bandit named Hamburgler? How come a girl-bird named Birdie the Early Bird? Mayor McCheese kinda makes sense because he’s a cheeseburger (looks like he’s the mayor of McDonaldland, which we’ll cover in a sec). And Ronald McDonald is obvious… if not a little creepy because, well, clowns are creepy.
Other than being one of the most recognizable old McDonald’s characters, what the heck is Grimace?
Even Compared To A Guy With A Hamburger For A Head, Grimace Was Bizarre
Grimace has always been the stand-out weirdo of the old McDonald’s characters. The creepy mascots that haunted our childhoods and entertained our birthday parties all had unique personalities. However, Grimace was puzzling. Large, purple, with a big silly face and a strangely shaped body, he looked kinda like the dumbest of the bunch. Also: nobody knew what he was.
Basically, the bizarre Grimace looked like a big purple blob. And until recently, that’s where it stopped.
What Is Grimace Anyways?
So what is Grimace?
Recently, a McDonald’s manager in Canada named Brian Bates came out about what Grimace actually is. Mr. Bates was named Outstanding Manager of the Year, which landed him in the top 10% of bosses at over 1,400 restaurants in Canada. Atta boy Brian.
While sharing about the challenges of running a McDonald’s during the pandemic, he also revealed that Grimace is, in fact, a tastebud. A large, purple tastebud.
Really… A Tastebud?
The purpose of having a tastebud as a mascot is to show that McDonald’s food tastes good. Personally, it sounds to me like the people of the marketing team were all passing around a big joint in the boardroom when they came up with the idea for the McDonald’s characters. If you think about it, it was the early ’70s, so it makes sense.
The characters were originally created as part of a television commercial series called “McDonaldland”. Most of the other old McDonald’s characters make sense, but why they chose a tastebud as a mascot we may never know.
What Happened To These Strange Characters?
So basically, the commercials for McDonaldland ripped off someone else’s creative work, so McDonald’s got sued. Because of this, they phased out a lot of the characters over time.
The commercials were a successful marketing device… until 1973. A Canadian sibling-duo sued McDonald’s by claiming that the entire premise for the series plagiarized their work. As you probably know, a few characters are still around and occasionally attending children’s birthday parties. However, many of them just didn’t cut it.
So now you know! Regardless of your childhood memories of the old McDonald’s characters, no matter how many times you’ve thought “what is Grimace?”… now you have some answers.