This is a cool piece of promo art depicting what a day might be like in the most magical place on Earth… McDonaldland! I swear, I was so firmly in the greasy, fatty clutches of McDonald’s as a kid that I really would have rather gone to a McDonaldland theme park than Disney World.
This advertisement has to be from the early 70s ormid 70s as McDonald’s was forced to phase out many of their characters and downplay the concept of McDonaldland thanks to a lawsuit from Sid & Marty Krofft, who claimed there were too many similarities to their show, H.R. Pufnstuf. I have to agree, but these are still fun characters BECAUSE THEY’RE BASED ON FOOD!!!
It is unfortunate lawsuits and corporate “streamlining” banished many of these characters from McDonaldland, but let’s take a look and see who we can see…
Officer Big Mac – The law of the ‘land, he was always hot on the trail of Hamburglar and Captain Crook. From what I can find, he was phased out in the ’80s. Probably the late ’80s, because I remember the McDonald’s that we always frequented in Lynchburg, Virginia, had a big plastic figure of him standing in the playland area. I always loved patting his big hamburger head and would often pretend to be his boy sidekick.
The Hamburglar – Hamburglar was the lovable thief who was always trying to steal burgers. You’d think in a place like McDonaldland, you wouldn’t really need to steal them. They seem plentiful. There’s “hamburger patches”, for Pete’s sake! Hamburglar was one of my favorites. What can I say? I loved the bad boys. I didn’t even realize this until a few weeks ago, but apparently McDonald’s retired the character in the late-90s. He was brought briefly sometime this decade, then retired again. I guess he finally had to pay for all of his misdeeds.
Ronald McDonald – Oh, you know who this guy is. Truthfully, I always found the rest of the characters to be much more interesting. Sure, Ronny was an all-around great guy, always up for fun with a smile on his face and he had some cool magic powers, but he was ultimately kinda boring and a bit creepy looking. I like him, I just like most of the other characters better.
Captain Crook – The cap’n was another casualty of ’80s character downsizing. I remember him though. Just like Hamburglar, he was always stealing food, but instead of hamburgers he wanted Filet-O-Fish sandwiches and he roamed the Filet-O-Fish Lake looking for them. I remember thinking he was pretty cool looking with his green beard and purple pirate’s outfit.
Grimace – Believe it or not, the big purple blobby goofy Grimace was originally another McDonaldland crook known as Evil Grimace. His mission: to steal all the milkshakes. He also had four arms (so he could grab more milkshakes!). Perhaps he is Goro’s ancestor. Shortly thereafter, he was reduced to only two arms, renamed simply “Grimace” and was one of Ronald’s best buddies. I kinda like him with four arms, they should bring that back.
Mayor McCheese – Mayor McCheese didn’t leave the ’80s in tact either. He was a bit of a lame brain and it was all a puppet regime anyway. Anyone with a hamburger for a brain could see Ronald was really calling all the shots.
Fry Kids – Fry Kids were always fun, they brought a youthful energy to McDonaldland. Again, they were originally “bad”, having been called “Gobblins”, they were deadset on eating all of the fries. Did Ronald do some Zatanna-like mindwiping to some of these villains or what? They look like pom-pons.
The Hamburger Patch - Very strange this patch is, but they are adorable. It’s what you’d expect, a patch of hamburgers. They are anthromorphic creatures… and then the rest of the McDonaldland characters eat them. The whole concept is very weird– these smiling singing, talking hamburgers having no qualms with you chomping down on them. I think I’d be more at ease with the idea of they were just plain ol’ hamburgers.
Looks like there’s also what you might call a “fry patch” in this picture as well, but they don’t appear to be anthromorphic (*whew!*). That appie pie tree is pretty cool too. I think he was one of the main pieces for our local playland, I remember tugging on the apples and apple pies. They really should’ve made the tree a full character. The apple pie tree has that special look that is screaming to be characterized and not just be known as “an apple pie tree”.
Notice the milkshake volcanoes in the background. Excellent! Too bad that train looks like it’s going to run right through that McDonald’s. And I’m guessing next to them is some sort of hot fudge mountain stream? And who lives in that castle in the background? The Mayor? Ronald? By the way, nice little bit of trickery there trying to get kids to throw their trash away: “Don’t forget to feed the Wastebasket!” Yes, the Wastebasket. They should’ve made him a character too.
Unfortunately, in these harsh modern times, McDonaldland itself has pretty much phased out of advertising. These days, all we get is Ronald hanging out with a bunch of brats in the “real world”. But we’ll always be able to cherise those wonderful commercials of yesteryear…