'plot line'/development of McDonalds commercials

Okay, like many of you, I’ve been troubled by a tendency to recall and cross-correlate things that those around us ignore and forget.

I’m hoping that you can help with a personal project: trying to make some sense of the development of the McDL commercial characters.

I was always annoyed by McDL commercials (and, quite frankly, the S+M Krofft shows too) so I didn’t catalog or retain my observations until I was about 10, and discovered that my contemporaries couldn’t even recall the most basic changes from a year or so before. It was, if not the first, certainly among the most frustrating, early experience I had with MadAve brainwashing.

I’d really appreciate confirmation/comments on the few observations I still retain. I’ve actually had conversations on this topic a few times in the past quarter century, but even my typically trivia-obsessed friends seem to have blanked on this one

[list=1][li]Ronald McD was originally a hapless, confused ancillary character[/li][li]Eventually he rose to such heights that he had Mayor McC and Big Mac (Chief of Police) scurrying around like mere lackeys[/li][li]I believe that this happened around the time that he ‘discovered’ the prepackaged Hot Apple Pies ™ that dripped from the branches of the Good Trees in the ‘Living Forest’ (Oops, I mean ‘Enchanted Forest’) How everone else missed them is beyond me - but hey, I never noticed them before either ;-)[/li][li]How did McD trademark ‘Hot Apple Pie’ anyway? Does that mean a certain current movie (which shall remain unnamed) will trademark 'Warm Apple Pie’™. And if so, how do I opt out of the merchandising for that line?[/li][li]Why does no one remember that the trees were once divided into ‘good’ and ‘evil’ [Ents/Huorns, anyone][/li][li]Who runs McDL’s penal system - they actually managed to rehabilitate the perpetually recidivist Hamburglar (who, after the first few episodes, never stole hamburgers - only French Fries. Was I the only one this bugged?) and the Evil Grimace (now called simply ‘Grimace’ At least 'Evil Grimace verged on being a pun of sorts)[/list=1][/li]
Much thanks for your help. Tyen I can get on with my metaphysical analysis or the themese and messages

What can I say? I was traumatized by a father who used to steal all my fries by ‘spilling’ them into the larger bag, as he pulledthem out. I knew he was doing it, but… well, when I finally worked up the courage to invite a lovely girl to McD for a burger, I was so shocked by McD’s carefully crafted ‘overfilled bags’, that according to her, I couldn’t stop talking about it.

[She was/is an exceptional gal, however, and forgave me. That was 27 years ago, and she grows lovelier every year]

(and no, she’s not reading over my shoulder)

For what it’s worth, Ronald McDonald predates McDonaldland commercials. I remember waiting in anticipation for Ronald’s vist to our neighborhood McDonalds when I was 5 (1968). There was a huge crowd there to greet him and I think MadAve had us brainwashed into thinking he was going to hand out expensive toys and chocolate shakes. He showed up in the back of a Cadillac, 20 minutes late, made a half dozen balloon animals to be distributed amoung the 200 kids there that day and then left.

I took to calling Ronald “stupid bastard” whenever I saw a commercial to which my parents only nodded their heads. From then on, we were Jack in the Box patrons (they gave out 2 balloons for each kid, and their clown took your order!)

KP, your awesome. I’m too young to recall any of the character development, but I am anxious to find out and answer.

I never payed too much attention to the characters but have been trying to remember all their commercials’ songs:
McDonald’s is your kind of place…(sixties)
Two all-beef patties…
You deserve a break today…(Barry Manilow)
It’s a good time for the great taste of McDonald’s
Did somebody say McDonald’s

What am I missing?

[[What am I missing?]]

A life?
(sorry, had to do it)

BTW, Jim Varney (aka “Ernest”) claimed to be the voice of the Hamburgler (-ar?). Not that he ever said that much–I think it was only “Robble Robble,” whatever that meant. Don’t know if it’s been verified. The “bad guys” were later toned down so that they just became normal characters. “Grimace” was originallly the “Evil Grimace.” And even the Hamburgler seemed to have mended his ways.

Correction–NOT Jim Varney of the famous “Ernest” commercials/movies, but Howard Morris, who played “Ernest T. Bass” in the old Andy Griffith series. (Although I think they’re basically the same character.)

In re: McDonalds jingles

[Does the ™ have an apostrophe?]

“At McDonalds… we do it all for you”

in apparent response to “Have it your way… at Burger King”

This immediately preceded "You deserve a break today. I recall one YDABT ad that ended with a softly sung musical tag of WDIAFY. At the time, I thought it was a nice unifying homage to the ‘elder statesman’ (and wondered if it was a response to protests over the jungle change)
As an elementary school kid at the time, I recall the classroom parodies, which spread across the nation by unknown means at a speed exceeding a UL on the internet. I’ve sung those parodies with (adult) friends who were scattered across the country at the time the commercials aired. (I was in Atlanta during the McDL timeframe)

Anyone recall these musical pre-Wacky Pack wonders?


McDonald’s is your kind of place
They steal your parking place
put ketchup between your toes (many variants)
shove friend fries up you nose…
I can’t go on. My tolerance for third grade humor isn’t what it used to be. Typing this somehow seems so much more embarrassing than teaching it to impressionable young minds (No child who associates with me for long is ever able to sing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” with a straight face ever again)

K “passing on the wisdom of the ages” P

And what was the Arch deluxe slogan? My needle is stuck in a groove: ‘The Taste Adults have grown to love’ (Frosted Flakes)
(Gee, I’ll probably live long enough to hear someone ask Cecil about the expression ‘needle stuck in a groove’. Better start cataloging those ‘expressions from the last century’ for your grandkids. 23-skiddoo!)

I know no one will believe me about the McDonalds goblin song (a oddly punned "It’s fun to be a-gobbling… at McDonald Land, so I found proof:

And as a bonus try: http://www.rt66.com/dthomas/70s/childtv/pufnstuf.au

If ‘Over nnn million sold’ isn’t quite a slogan, it’s close. Despite my doubts about the number’s accuracy, I was upset when they stopped counting altogether.

Re: McDonaldLand Jingles

Now look what you’ve made me do…

“You, You’re the one” (1975) (the original song that contained the “We do it all for you” line) in both Gladys Knight and Jose Feliciano versions
“Nobody can do it like McDonalds can” (1979) Seals and Crofts version
(from the record McDonalds made of their late 70’s jingles.

1975 was also the year McDonaldLand went all to heck, beginning with the infamous “Ronald McDonald goes to the Moon for Cheese” and the “McFriendliest” advertisements
(Wasn’t the “moon” commercial the first with the “McDonald benediction” where Ronald moves his hand in two opposing swoops, and The ‘Golden Arches of Salvation appear’?)

You’re right.

McDonalds is your kind of place
Hamburgers in your face
French fries up your nose
Pickles between your toes

That was our version.

KP, I cannot fully express in words my admiration for the greatness you have displayed here – and no, I’m not being sarcastic.

With regard to the Hamburglar, though, I think it is obvious why he steals fries – because that (as you later noted) is what many people will do with your fries (I know I sometimes will). Nobody but a hardened felon, though, would steal your burger; stealing fries is more of a misdemeanor (putting aside that, IRL, people don’t take your whole bag, as I recall the Hamburglar doing, and stealing the whole bag escalates the offense to a level approaching, and sometimes surpassing, that of burger theft).

In addition, of course, to the “tasty fries others will eat out of your bag” connection, they like to keep it fairly light in McDonaldland.
[[ I remember waiting in anticipation for Ronald’s vist to our neighborhood McDonalds when I was 5 (1968). There was a huge crowd there to greet him and I think MadAve had us brainwashed into thinking he was going to hand out expensive toys and chocolate shakes. He showed up in the back of a Cadillac, 20 minutes late, made a half dozen balloon animals to be distributed amoung the 200 kids there that day and then left.]] Papabear
Sounds like that was straight out of Krusty’s playbook. "I get $500 just for “hey-hey’!” That also reminds me:
"Lou: You know, I went to the McDonald’s in Shelbyville on Friday
night –
Wiggum: [interrupting] The McWhat?

Lou: Uh, the McDonald’s. I, I never heard of it either, but they
have over 2,000 locations in this state alone.

Eddie: Must’ve sprung up overnight.

Lou: You know, the funniest thing though; it’s the little differences.

Wiggum: Example.

Lou: Well, at McDonald’s you can buy a Krusty Burger with cheese,
right? But they don’t call it a Krusty Burger with cheese.

Wiggum: Get out! Well, what do they call it?

Lou: A Quarter Pounder with cheese.

Wiggum: Quarter Pounder with cheese? Well, I can picture the cheese,
but, uh, do they have Krusty partially gelatinated non-dairy
gum-based beverages?
Lou: Mm-hm. They call 'em, “shakes.”

Eddie: Huh, shakes. You don’t know what you’re gettin’."
[[Typing this somehow seems so much more embarrassing than teaching it to impressionable young minds (No child who associates with me for long is ever able to sing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” with a straight face ever again).]] KP
I try to teach every little kid I know the “my dog has no nose” joke. Most of 'em really like it, although that may be somewhat due to my deep enthusiasm for the subject – I try to work that joke in at least once a day. If there is ever any reference to actual/potential damage to anyone’s or any thing’s nose, you can rest assured that I will say something like, “broken nose? How does he smell?”

Trust me, it’s all part of the pyramid of comedy.

Utterly forgettable.

Last night, I was passing a TV and caught McDonalds’ current McFlurry commercial. I guess I’ve heard it a thousand times, but this was the first time I noticed the song:

"You get more for your money.

Much more for your money.

You get more for your money,

'Cuz McDonald’s treats you right."

I confess, I did my time in Discos. But even the Donna Summers(?) original “She works hard for her money” was a lesser light. This ad will not be remembered even one day into the 21st century. Contrast it with that with Nortel’s “Come together” (Beatles) commercial, which, by turning that familiar song into a corporate speech, veritably begged you to sing it in your mind. [lesser examples abound on TV today]

Indeed, This may be the central weakness in McD advertising.

McD made a good start in TV commercial music, perhaps even helping to pioneer a new wave, but they didn’t really understood the genre, which is why people are much more likely to sing BK’s ‘have it your way’ now. [or is that just canny product placement on the ‘funniest commercials shows’?] McD insists on getting their name out front, so we greet their ads with “McWhatever”. We know what McD’s is, they’re not telling us anything new. (and appetizing shots of grilling meats are already reaching concentrations far in excess of OSHA limits, much less the Geneva convention) They need catchphrases, and catchphrases (songs) have to be able to fly free for maximal cultural penetration.

[Alka-Seltzer was the king of this, though at least one of its many 70’s catchphrases was a failure as an ad campaign. Surveys showed that a surprising percentage of the public thought "Mama mia, that’s a spicy meatball’ was a commercial for Italian food or laundry detergent. Meatballs just don’t convey heartburn like ‘I can’t believe I ate the whole thing’]

On the musical front, McD coulda been a contenda, right up there with Coke, if it weren’t so in love with its own name.
[ul][li]Wasn’t Coke’s “I’d like to teach the world to sing” a knockout? It’s right up there with the infamous Goldwater ‘Daisy’ commercial and Iron Eyes Cody’s famous ‘crying Indian’ – and it was a Coke commercial well before The New Christy Mistrels recorded it as hit single. Coke cleverly sneaked their product name in the last verse and a counterharmony at the end, tricking you into adding it subconsciously every time you heard the song, McD would have put their name up front, so you’d never sing it in the first place.[/ul][/li]Not that cultural impact is necessarily a good thing – I still can’t think of Claire Peller (former beef-seeking Wendy’s media figure) without wanting to yell “Where’s the point?” I heard her screech that non-punchline so many times that I began to suspect she was behind all those cattle mutillations one hears so much about. ["spleen, liver, hooves… where’s the … (oh dear God, please say ‘inferior mesenteric artery!’)]

I’m not old enough to assess the catchphrase culture of the 60’s (in terms of how society reacted to them) But in the 90’s, our culture seems to hunger for these phrases so much that it seizes upon anything that even remotely resembles one. Admittedly, even the 70’s had some relatively lame ones, mostly from TV shows
[ul][li]E,g,: Fonzie is cool, an “Aaaayy!” T-shirt is not. In fact, with its undefined spelling, it may have been the worst bumper sticker/button/T-shirt slogan in history. If you didn’t ‘get it’ right off, it looked like the last words of a dying Alzheimers patient [and the man-on-the-street’s feeble Fonzie impressions only reinforced this image][/ul][/li]I’ll leave my thoughts on the Levi’s “Girls… How about the Girls?” ad for another thread. I haven’t seen so many crotch shots since the opening of the ‘Matt Houston’ TV series
K “I’ve fallen into the 70’s, and I can’t get out” P, a crotchety old fool

Another odd thing you’ll find if you look at old McDonaldland art is that Grimace used to have four arms instead of two. Did someone hack them off in the middle of the night?

I really liked the Fry Guys. I would doodle Fry Guy-inspired monsters in my 3rd and 4th grade notebooks. They hung out with my doodles of “Big Blue Marble” characters.

More recently (late 80’s) there was a short-lived Pirate character whose thing was the Fish Fillet sandwiches.

The newest regular character who is still around that I can think of is Birdy, who started out as Breakfast Birdy, but doesn’t particulary focus on breakfasts any more.

Yes, you’re absolutely right! And he seems to have lost the multiple fry/shake pouches that he had in the early days, as well. (though I think I still seee them in some depictions]
Amputation has so many symbolic mythic /folk precedents…

This is getting rather intricate. Your remarks have brought to mind a menagerie of fogotten characters

Hmm. weren’t they the denizens of the Fry Patch? Interesting how the fries went from being helplessly rooted victims of the Hamburglar/Grimace in the early commercials [Help, Ronald!] to being frenetically mobile [they clearly had legs, but seemed to levitate, rather than walk) later on. Now they are almost totally -er- vegetative. I don’t recall them even having mobile facial expressions now
There’s a couple of folk/mythic precedent there too.

Very good! I’d forgotten about him. But I believe that he dates back to the 70’s wasn’t there once a buccaneer on the Fillet’o’fish wrapper?
Fillet’o’fish - a name that is both very ‘Treasure Island’ and rather Irish. How, on God’s Green Earth did they manage to avoid the obvious Leprecaun/Paddy/whatever character called Phil A O’Fish? More midgets! More seven-foot tall stuffed costumes! Bring 'em on!
[I could be mistaken about the pirate dating back to the late 70’s, I moved to a town in ‘75 where the local high school team was ‘The Buccaneers’, I still see afterimages of pirates on *everything*]
Hmm… too many vague memories today. I’m seeing leprecauns in my recollection, but it was probably just some short-lived green shake commercial [St.Patrick’s Day] or ‘Pot o’ Gold Sweepstakes’.
At least they didn’t hire Pamela Lee as a character for McRibs
Now I’m going to embarrass myself. Who had the Fishwich? Was that BK (perhaps a downsized “Whaler”) or was it, as I seem to very vaguely recall, a McD menu item? And if so, wasn’t there a FishWitch [not to be confused with fishwife) along the lines of Puffnstuf’s WitchiePoo in the very earliest commercials?
I believe that the fishwich had a slice of cheese while the fillet’o’fish didn’t (or vice versa) It was one of those sneaky marketing switches – like the McDLT, which (they would have you believe) was predicated on keeping the ‘hot side hot, and the cold side cold’, when in reality, they just wanted to make a sandwich with mayo (which focus groups showed diners preferred) and fresh (vs reconstituted dried) onion without admitting they were copying The Whopper.
Sadly, the CFC/styrofoam scandal killed McDLT. [Too bad! I’m one of the guys who prefers mayo - most days, anyway - but the mayo is best when warmed together with the tomato/onion by the patty. Alas, though abandoning the pretense would actually create a better tasting sandwich, they chose to abandon the sandwich instead.]

I don’t recall Birdy at all. Not so much as a vague picture. Is s/he still around? Perhaps on commercials in the 'kiddie slots? [Saturday morning/after school]
What does s/he look like?

Yeah, she’s still in current ads. She’s a little girl bird with pigtails, overalls, a snub beak, and (I think) an aviator’s helmet. Roughly the same size as Hamburgler. Most recently seen as an observer in an ad in which Ronald tries unsuccessfully to get a stain off of the seat of his trousers.

The “Pirate Guy” was originally Captain Crook, who would try to steal the Filet-o-Fish sandwiches (before the McEmployees chopped off their little fish faces and fins) out of the pond in McDonaldland. This was back before the Hamburglar became a paedomorphic miscreant and was a real threat.
The “Fry Guys”, if my aging memory serves, were originally “Gobblins”, who would try to gobble up the french fries. Manny commercials chronicled Ronald’s efforts to thwart these evil-doers.
These are both from the early years of McDonaldland, when a Shadow laid across the Land and dark forces gathered along the borders. There seem to be less visits to McDonaldland by mundane children now, although we see much more leakage of McDonaldian creatures into our plane…

Dr. Fidelius, Charlatan
Associate Curator Anomalous Paleontology, Miskatonic University
Homo vult decipi; decipiatur

Thanks for the description, dfahs. Now I recall her (vaguely). Does anyone recall her plotline
at introduction? Surely she didn’t just appear from nowhere.

In response to DrFidelius

Ah yes! Captain Crook, the ‘fisher of souls’! No wonder he was ousted from the McD’ian pantheon. There was no room for him after Ronald Ascended to the Heavens, and returned with the McD’ian benediction (the aforementioned ‘Ronald goes to the moon for cheese’ commercial that I considered, even at the time, a turning point in the series)

Since that Ascension, the surviving miscreants are now apostles. I think your account of the evolution of the Fry guys rings true - it certainly makes sense, if that means anything - but I’m still not sure that the fries themselves weren’t briefly mobile.

In the current recension, there is no McDonaldLand without Ronald. He is the Alpha and the Omega. There is almost an implication that the title ‘McDonaldLand’ refers to him, where once he was proclaimed as but a shadow of the Creator, the One True McD**s,
unknown and unknowable, from whom all blessings come. It wouldn’t be the first time a messenger was confused with the Creator.

It is true that McDL suffers from a lack of dramatic conflict, as a land where all must love thy neighbor as they love themselves. But I can’t help but wonder if the McDL we see today is the same one we saw before. Since RMcD ascended and fell (yes “fell”, for unlike other messianic figures, he was not allowed to reascend and sit by the right hand of the Creator) Is it possible that this is the McD we see today is but a creation of the Fallen One? Mere illusion and maya, incapable of supporting the influx of ‘real’ children that the true McDL did? Are the apparitions that invade our world intended to lead us astray?

A false McDL would not have the Ominous shadows at its borders because it would be a lesser, incomplete creation. It would not be under assault. And it’s freakin’ Ronald would be exactly the type of cheesy rip-off that so many readers have reported visiting their local McDL.

Indeed, why is it that the Ronald cannot give out toys at least as good as the ones offered in the happy meals of the McDs he visits? Why are the Happy Meals entirely absent from the false McDL we see on TV today?

Hmm… let’s look to the Theology:
[ul][li]The proper abbreviation (for the faithful) should be “McDs” - A Tetraliteral (Quadriliteral) for the True Name of He whose True Name must not spoken (in front of small children, anyway) “Thou shalt not take his name in vain, lest from your back seat there arise much wailing and gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes and the cries of children. And he who goes before the multitudes and speaks the name in vain shall be rent limb from limb by attourneys. For I am a Wrathful Corporation and jealous of my trademark”[/li]
[li]“McDs is everywhere, in the village and in the field, and beside the road that runs through the wilderness. Yea verily, wherever two or more gather in his name, shall a McDs be built.”[/li]
[li]Think about it: “You, You’re the One” (the song that ends “We do it all for You”) is obviously a hymn to the True McDs (“Nobody can do it like McDonalds can”) than a pledge of service to the customer. I mean have you seen the service at McD? And their slavish worship of corporate policy speaks of ecclesiastic zeal. Think about it: “You, You’re the One/ you are teh Only Reason/ You, You’re The One/ That we take pride in pleasin’” Who is The One? [Okay, you Babylon 5 and Matrix fans can put your hands down now] Not the customer - McDs! Contrast this orthodoxy with the hedonistic pagan “Have it your Way” of a competing religion.[/li]
[li]The 2 oz wafer (patty) of ‘flesh’ and the ketchup that symbolizes blood… the loaves and fishes of the Fillet’o’Fish … I leave the analysis of the Big Mac (“Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun”) as an exercise for[/li]the student. Make sure to address the ingredient missing from the jingle, and the role of the third slice of bread between the patties.[/ul]

Sorry about mangling your quoted citation, dfahs. Apparently, UBB does not support nested quotes

JillGat - can you be convinced to intercede on our behalf for a ‘preview’ feature/button. I am firmly of the opinion that any Board or
other display that permits formatting should allow previewing of how that format actually displays, before it is committed to stone. I realize that UBB is probaly a commercial package, but this is a fundamental design issue - maybe they have that feature already.

KP wrote:

It has been many years since I actually had to construct a Big Mac, but I’m pretty sure the jingle has all the ingredients, unless you want to include salt and pepper.

Oh, and the role (not roll? :wink: of the club is to keep the heel from getting saturated with grease from two patties :slight_smile: