McDonaldland Apocalypse: 15 Forgotten Fast Food Mascots
For anyone too young to remember McDonaldland, it was basically a foam rubber forest of talking burgers populated by puppet people that bore a distinct resemblance to Sid and Marty Krofft’s briefly popular children’s show H.R. Pufnstuf. McDonald’s aped the Kroffts’ style so much that the ensuing lawsuit over the McDonaldland commercials resulted in the fast food giants paying the Kroffts a million dollars (not too shabby for the late ‘70s) and phasing out the psychedelic rip off that was McDonaldland. Yet between history’s pop culture pack rats and the all-seeing, all-knowing internet, some of the most obscure relics of McDonaldland have been momentarily resurrected for this very article. These 15 forgotten fast food mascots may differ in time periods and restaurant chains but they have one thing in common – they’re all pretty weird:
1. The Wizard of Fries (Burger King)
The Wizard of Fries is the first mascot on this list derived from Burger King’s Burgerkingdom, the natural antithesis to McDonaldland and much less remembered. We’re not really dealing with Gandalf here or anything you’d expect from a wizard. Much like a disgruntled fast food worker, the Wizard of Fries hocks a loogie into the proverbial Whopper by refusing to adhere to the Burgerkingdom’s strict medieval theme. The Wizard of Fries is the least liked guy in the Ren Faire that is the Burgerkingdom because he’s (for no explicable reason) a robot hanging out with medieval monarchs.
2. CosMc (McDonald’s)
Trying to cash in on the coked out ‘80s trend of slapping together a bunch of random insanity, McDonald’s introduced an extraterrestrial with a Californian accent to its McDonaldland setting. Much like a Californian, CosMc was mainly interested in exchanging “flower” for food.
3. Mister Softee (Mister Softee)
One of the few mascots to not come from the larger restaurant chains, Mister Softee didn’t technically come from a restaurant chain at all. Instead, he is the mysterious face of Mister Softee ice cream trucks. In the ‘90s, the subject of his unearthly anonymity was tackled artfully in an episode of The Adventures of Pete and Pete.
4. Kid Vid (Burger King)
Speaking of the ‘90s, you probably forgot about the Burger King Kids Club. And who could blame you? It was highly forgettable. Kid Vid was probably the most memorable member of the club of cartoon stereotypes. With his rabid addiction to technology, Kid Vid may have actually served as a prophecy to the glossy future of Google Glass and smartphones.
5. Uncle O’Grimacey (McDonald’s)
Another oft-forgotten refugee of McDonaldland, Uncle O’Grimacey was Grimace’s furry green uncle who showed up periodically to shower trusting children in pale green limited edition Shamrock Shakes. Screenshots of Uncle O’Grimacey from the McDonaldland commercials are pretty raw, so here’s an illustration of him on a…I guess it’s a whoopee cushion?
6. The Anonymous Lips (Dairy Queen)
Dairy Queen’s never been big on the mascots. They used Dennis the Menace for a bit but it wasn’t until recently that they gave us by far the most uninspired mascot on this list in the anonymous lips. Sure, they’re a bit creepy but they really only made the list because they’re such a half-assed idea for a mascot. Now to apologize for the momentary boredom, here’s an image of the host of the Australian children’s show Mulligrubs to show you how disembodied faces should be done:
7. Duke of Doubt (Burger King)
Unlike the characters of McDonaldland, those of the Burgerkingdom had a villain in the Duke of Doubt whose main crime was being skeptical of the Burger King’s magical powers. His plastic face also hints at how freakishly terrifying the Burger King would become in more recent years.
8. The Noid (Domino’s)
Claymation was huge in the ‘80s. That doesn’t really explain Domino’s pissed off mascot, a grown man in a red rubber bunny suit. But nothing can really ever explain that.
9. Pizza Head (Pizza Hut)
Pizza Hut’s short-lived Pizza Head straddled the line between the unsettling Claymation of The Noid with the slack marketing of Dairy Queen’s lips. He’s a talking pizza slice that fears pain. How could that not sell pizza? Better bake some hot dogs into the crust, just to be safe.
10. Mac Tonight (McDonald’s)
As far as I know, Mac Tonight, the crescent-moon faced crooner never set foot in McDonaldland but was instead geared at reminding people that McDonald’s served dinner. He was used in some commercials in 2007 overseas but his Max Headroom-like demeanor made American audiences more uncomfortable than hungry.
11. Queenie Bee (Burger Queen)
Yes, there was also a Burger Queen restaurant. This photo of their mascot, Queenie Bee, explains why there is only a Burger King now.
12. Spongmonkeys (Quiznos)
At some point after the new millennium, restaurants quit trying to entice customers and instead just tried to scare the hell out of them. Quiznos came out on top (probably the only time they can claim that honor) with their bizarre Spongmonkeys ad campaign. Somehow, they created a perfect visual for how their subs taste!
13. Sir Shakes-a-Lot (Burger King)
Sir Shakes-a-lot is the epileptic basket case knight of the Burgerkingdom but you try to hold your arms still after trying to survive on a diet of milkshakes.
14. Everyone from Burger Chef (Burger Chef)
The Burgerkingdom wasn’t the only parallel nightmare world to McDonaldland. You may have heard of Burger Chef from Mad Men episodes and assumed it was a fabricated generic fast food chain but it was actually a fairly well known company into the ‘70s. Burger Chef created its own misfit mascots, heavily inspired by the classic Universal Monsters like Dracula and the Wolf Man. The mascots didn’t quite connect with audiences. For this marketing faux pas, Burger Chef received the ultimate punishment: eventually most of its locations became Hardee’s.
15. The McDonaldland Hall of Shame – Prototype Ronald McDonald, Evil Grimace, The Lone Jogger (McDonald’s)
To close out this list, we needed to stir up some real nightmare juice (no, I don’t mean Big Mac Special Sauce). These are the faces that haunted the nights of McDonaldland; early versions of popular McDonaldland characters deemed too awkward or disturbing. First, there was the early prototype of the Hamburglar, originally called the Lone Jogger. Why? Just one more unexplained piece of trivia to add to his already off-the-charts creep factor. Then we have the early version of Grimace or as he was known then, “The Evil Grimace.” Yep, Grimace started as the 4-armed nemesis to Ronald McDonald, using his purple globby mitts to gluttonously steal shakes while the Hamburglar was still off jogging alone somewhere. Finally, there was the first Ronald McDonald who looked and acted like a homeless psychotic who just crawled out of a McDonald’s dumpster. Even the clown prince of McDonaldland and lord of fast food mascots everywhere started at the bottom.