If you’re a Millennial or a Gen-Xer, chances are you grew up watching endless ads for McDonald’s. And from 1971 through 2003, the fast-food giant aired commercials featuring not only Ronald McDonald, but a whole series of characters from what they call “McDonaldland.” This fictional world was filled with many oddball creations. All of which appealed to kids. And the branding worked. McDonaldland ultimately appeals to American kids as much as Chuck E. Cheese.
Now, YouTube channel Yesterworld Entertainment has chronicled the fascinating rise and fall of McDonaldland. This video essay is sure to bring back lots of nostalgic memories. Mostly of very bizarre fast-food mascots. You can watch the full video right here.
The video contains many interesting tidbits about the entire McDonaldland initiative. Few today know how McDonald’s initially asked children’s TV legends Sid and Marty Krofft to help develop the entire concept. However, McDonald’s ultimately changes its mind about working with the Kroffts. They decided to “move in another direction.” Except they really didn’t. And the characters McDonald’s created wound up as a blatant copy of Kroffts’ hit show, H.R. Pufnstuf. After years of litigation, the company ultimately rewards the Kroffts with a nice chunk of change.
Aside from Ronald McDonald, the rest of the characters have vanished. And even he only shows up rarely now. In one sense, it’s a good thing. Using kid-friendly branding to lure kids to eat not-so-healthy food? Very questionable. On the other hand, the old-school theming had personality. McDonald’s later leans into a very beige and boring coffee house aesthetic after losing McDonaldland. With nostalgia such a driving factor these days, who knows? We may yet see Mayor McCheese, Birdie, and Grimace make a comeback. Maybe then they can finally answer just what the heck a Grimace even is.
Featured Image: Yesterworld Entertainment