Would You Like Fry Guys With That?

Grimace, my friend!  You're looking more and more like a giant buttplug every day!

Grimace, my friend! You’re looking more and more like a giant buttplug every day!

There once was a glorious day when nobody thought it was irresponsible for a fast food flashback fridaycompany to promote its artery clogging delicacies to children, and no funny looking restaurant with a drive thru handled this better than McDonald’s did.  For this week’s Flashback Friday, let’s take a look back at the wonderfully creepy world that was McDonaldland and all of its lobotomized inhabitants!

Let’s get you in the proper mood for this post with a classic mid 80’s ad featuring four of McDonaldland’s best known goofballs…

How in the heck did we find this so amusing as kids?

This is either a normal day in McDonaldland, or the start of a very bad porn flick...

This is either a normal day in McDonaldland, or the start of a very bad porn flick…

Ronald and his gang of misfits were completely ubiquitous during the 80’s, not only all over the commercials we used to watch as kids, but throughout McDonalds restaurants as well.  You know how Mickey Dee’s has been trying to look all upscale and classy the last decade or so, even making their employees wear ties?  That so didn’t used to be the atmosphere at McDonalds.  Not only were they generally dumps where all the weird people hung out all day, but they used to have one of the most fucked up playgrounds in your town…

Much respect to any playground that has its own jail.

Much respect to any playground that has its own jail.

Here, you could bounce up and down on a Fry Guy, run through the guts of Grimace, make out with the Ronald McDonald statue on the bench, or lock yourself up in the Big Mac jail… wait a minute, what was up with that jail anyway?  It’s become the iconic attraction from the old McDonalds PlayPlaces of our youth, but there was no cop character in McDonaldland, was there?

And if there was... why was this petty thug always on the loose?

And if there was… why was this petty thug always on the loose?

Come to think of it, who is this Mayor McCheese I always hear about?  I don’t remember him, yet his meat and cheese head always seems to come up whenever McDonaldland is mentioned!  Well, that’s because the McDonaldland we remember in the 80’s was much different than the McDonaldland your parents remember from the 70’s.  Not only were there a lot of characters we 80’s kids never got a chance to know, but even the ones who survived into our lifetimes were barely recognizable.  Check out this picture of Ronald’s old gang…

This is how you appeal to small children!

This is how you appeal to small children!

Holy fucking McNuggets!  And to think Burger King gets slammed for their creepy king mascot these days… McDonalds built an entire popular kids franchise on a recipe of creep!  There’s Mayor McCheese up there in the upper left corner, and there’s the cop, by golly, on the right!!  I’m not sure what Cap’n Crunch and Jerry Garcia are doing in the picture, though… but at least we have Grimace and Hamburg…. holy crap, what the fuck is up with Hamburglar!?!?  Geez, we always thought Grimace looked disturbing… Hamburglar was an absolute mess back in the day!  If you think this is starting to look like it was inspired by a bad LSD trip, well, there’s a good reason for that!  Here is what the entire McDonaldland concept was inspired by…

I'd be crying too if I were in the middle of that picture.

I’d be crying too if I were in the middle of that picture.

If you aren’t old enough to remember the classic McDonaldland characters, then you also aren’t old enough to remember the popular Sid and Marty Kroft kids show H.R. Pufnstuf.  Heck, I’ve never seen it myself, but it is legendary in 70’s nostalgia, and probably one of the most memorable things to come out of the drug culture of the hippie generation after Woodstock.  So inspired by H.R. Pufnstuf were the creators of McDonaldland, that the Krofts actually sued McDonalds for not giving them credit and wound up being awarded one million items off of the Dollar Menu.

I was gonna pay the Krofts, but I got high...

I was gonna pay the Krofts, but I got high…

This wound up being the major transition point between the old school creepyass McDonaldland, and the more colorful and slightly less creepy McDonaldland we all grew up to know and love.  After the lawsuit in the late 70’s, McDonalds phased out the mayor, the cop, the pirate, and the professor… which is why we never saw them in any 80’s advertising.  They kept Hamburglar and Grimace, but made each clean up their act first.  Hamburglar had to get plastic surgery and dye his hair, while Grimace had to lose his second set of arms (Seriously, he used to have four arms!).  They also had to quit thieving everything in sight.  We figured from his name that Hamburglar was a skilled ground beef thief, but you probably didn’t know that Grimace (nee, the Evil Grimace) use to take milkshakes from little kids.  Yeah, back before he was put through fast food mascot rehab, Grimace would bitchslap innocent children and take their milkshakes!

That's actually more acceptable than his current role as child eater.

That’s actually more acceptable than his current role as a child eater.

And sure enough, despite getting rid of both the Mayor and the cop, crime in McDonaldland dropped like a rock in the 80’s… meaning McDonaldland was obviously one of the most corrupt places on the planet.  Grimace became a loveable big buffoon, and the Hamburglar became some goofy kid in a Zorro costume who could only say “Robble Robble!”  Ronald carried on as the clown who tied everything together, and the Fry Guys were… well, they kept being whatever the hell they were supposed to be.

I can't tell if that orange one is Clyde or Sue.

I can’t tell if that orange one is Clyde or Sue.

To help promote their menu items that McDonalds considered to be some loose form of breakfast food, Birdie the Early Bird was brought on in the 80’s and became one of the major characters.  She was clumsy and kinda stupid, a lot like the other inhabitants of McDonaldland.  I wonder if they ever had the set tested for lead paint?

Hurry up!  It's almost 10:30AM, and I'll turn into a pumpkin!

Hurry up! It’s almost 10:30AM, and I’ll turn into a pumpkin!

While the old regulars were out in the PlayPlace rusting in the rain, the new gang was adorning our Happy Meals for much of the 80’s and 90’s.  Sadly, McDonalds pulled the plug on the crew about 10 years ago, focusing instead on more adult advertising.  Ronald McDonald lives on… it is kinda hard to kill off the icon most associated with your franchise.  But sadly, Grimace, Hamburglar, Birdie, the talking McNuggets, and all the rest of the remnants of bad acid flashbacks have been banished to rot for all eternity in a decommissioned Big Mac jail.

Don't let Grimace drop the soap, kiddies...

Don’t let Grimace drop the soap, kiddies…

Kids gotta eat unhealthy too, so The Nest offers up a big, greasy salute to McDonalds for helping kids steer their parents to the Golden Arches through the use of some of the most ingeniously designed culinary villains of all time turned special education rejects.  It doesn’t matter that we don’t know what Grimace was supposed to be or that the Fry Guys looked like walking hairy testicles, we just knew it translated into the desire for Happy Meals and cheap plastic toys.  Thank you Mickey Dee’s for all of the memories and nightmares your gang of ragtag McPimps brought into our lives, and don’t worry about what those evil Health Nazis may think… you can Super Size us any day!

OMG!  This.... is.... awesome!!!

OMG! This…. is…. awesome!!!

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About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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37 Responses to Would You Like Fry Guys With That?

  1. Mental Mama says:

    Dammit, now I’m really hungry. And I won’t even eat their food anymore because they treat their employees so shitty.

  2. Zomg I am laughing so hard! WTF with the 70s McD crew? I thought the 80s one was freaky enough! And Grimace being evil with 4 freaking arms? Holy crap! I’m lovin’ it! 😀

  3. Juliette says:

    OMG that was fun in the same way watching “The Ring” is fun.

    That was a creepy time for characters…looking back on it. The kids I know are horrified when they see this stuff. But at the time it all seemed so “normal” back then. It was sort of cute. This is proof people were doing a lot of drugs in the 70’s. A whole lot.

    I swear I’ll read Poe and Stephen King to my kids and know they’ll have fewer nightmares than if they see the creatures from HR Pufnstuf and the McDonald’s gang. Oh well. Thanks, as always, for the Friday fun!

    • I guess our ideas of cute and creepy are all relative to the time period. I was totally unaware of how horrifying the old McDonalds characters looked until I did my digging for this post….

  4. acuriousgal says:

    Soooooo darn funny!!! I miss those characters, they never helped or motivated my parents to bring us to McDonalds back in the 70’s. I’m fact, like most kids I knew back then, McDonalds was only eaten as “a treat”. So basically, if your Mom was sick and couldn’t cook, that’s where your Dad had to go to pick up dinner. We maybe got McDonalds twice in my life when I was a kid.

    • Yeah, eating out was a “treat” even back in my day. Maybe a couple times a month, but that’s it. Now that I’m an adult, I hit fast food joints about 3-4 times a week! Yes, I’m a bad squirrel who is just begging for a coronary….

  5. The Cutter says:

    Since my site is one of the net’s most popular search destination for info on the Hamburglar, (http://thecutterrambles.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/hamburglar-hamburglar-hamburglar/) I figured I’d chime in: Big Mac was the police officer character that the jail appears to be shaped like. I don’t recall exactly, but I think he was supposed to stop the Hamburglar.

    And I don’t think there’s any way to explain the Fry Guys without LSD being involved.

    • Ha! I would have bet my Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese (without cheese) meal that you’d bring up that Hamburglar post!

      Yeah, the Big Mac was supposed to catch all of the thieves in McDonaldland (which essentially consisted of…. everyone in McDonaldland at the time!), but he didn’t seem to do a good job of controlling crime.

      LSD… now I think we know what made that special sauce so special….

      • The Cutter says:

        Wait, you order your quarter pounders with cheese without cheese? That doesn’t make sense. And sorry for the link drop, but it felt appropriate.

      • No apologies necessary for the link drop… I do that as well sometimes. Like I said, I totally expected it because I remember when you said Hamburglar was your most popular search term…

        Yes, I get my DQP’s without cheese… and it completely fucks up both the cashier who has to make up the grill slip and the people on the sandwich assembly line who don’t bother to read it. I can’t stand cheese, and have to send it back if (and when) they put it on there. I think the record for one trip is having to have my DQP be remade three times…

  6. NotAPunkRocker says:

    DAMMIT. I know have the HR Pufenstuf theme in my head. How have you never seen that show? I saw it in re-runs at least (along with the Bugaloos and Lidsville…*shudder*)

    There was a shoutout to Grimace and Hamburglar on “the Daily Show” last night with the fast food strikes.

    I remember going to the grand opening of the first PlayLand here in Richmond and what a mess that event was.

    • NotAPunkRocker says:

      see how angry I am over that song? Typos!

      “Who’s your friend when things get rough?”…whatever.

      • I know Nick at Nite used to show HR Pufnstuf, but that was after I had quit watching. I think one of the digital rerun channels has him on now, but I’m always asleep the time of day it’s on…

        Bringing up the Daily Show coincidence… my original idea for FF today was to do a tribute to the short-lived live action/cartoon mashup The Super Mario Brothers Super Show…. but opted for McDonaldland since I’d been on a movie-TV show run lately. Turns out, the guy who played Luigi on that show died this morning….

      • NotAPunkRocker says:

        Oh no, really!

        When the kid was a middle-of-the-feeding infant, I would watch the Sid & Marty Krofft shows on Lifetime of all channels at 2 AM. The bright colors probably stimulated him and it made me feel like I was on some kind of drug to get through those feedings.

        Hmmm….post idea…

      • YAY for inspiration!

      • NotAPunkRocker says:

        We’ll see. I’ll have to give you credit. When everyone starts singing the theme to “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters” you may change your mind.

        Yes, it is sad that I know all of these without looking them up.

  7. merbear74 says:

    If I told you I was just talking about Grimace yesterday you wouldn’t believe me. I loved McDonald’s, and still do. I officially declare all nuggets be made with white meat. Great post Mayor Mcsquirrel.

  8. Bwa hahahahahahahaha…I remember most of those characters…and now I want McDonald’s for supper…

  9. Dylan Dailey says:

    The Kroft shows were acid trips for children! Good, good times. We weren’t creeped out one bit at the time, ‘cos it seemed normal. Wrap your skull around that….

  10. 1jaded1 says:

    I want my mommmmy! *sniff* Demented, they were.

  11. draliman says:

    I count myself lucky that I don’t remember any of these characters at all (apart from Ronald of course).
    Either they never invaded the UK or I’ve blocked them out of my mind 🙂

  12. C.K. Hope says:

    I remember Mayor McCheese and the cop … HR Pufnstuf, don’t remember that at all!

  13. my, we come from a frightening culture, don’t we? thanks for the memories (shudder)!

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