Back in the 70s, McDonald’s decided to expand it’s universe. They created a fictional place called McDonaldland. The place consisted of Triple Thick Milkshake Volcanoes, Hamburger Patches, French Fry Fields, Apple Pie Trees, & Fillet O Fish Lake. They created new characters to interact with Ronald McDonald in this fast food world. It was a huge marketing campaign that was catchy yet creepy at the same time. Unfortunately, the whole idea was stolen.
You see, in the early 70s, there was a couple of puppeteer brothers named Sid & Marty Krofft. They created a bizzare island named Living Island, where literally everything was living. The trees, the flowers & everything could talk to you. Jimmy, the only human, & his magic flute would have adventures on the Living Island. The main character in the show (besides Jimmy) was H R Pufnstuf, who was a strange looking dragon. HR was the mayor of the Living Island.
HR Pufnstuff was probably the trippiest looking acid trip show you’ve ever seen. I’m too young to remember it, but my older brother, Jeff, said he used to watch it all the time. I’ve seen it on TV Land a few times, and it’s very 70s looking: a laugh track, the loud colors everywhere, and everything imaginable could talk. I think you could get high, just by watching it. It was the number one Saturday Morning TV show at the time.
So, back to McDonalds. They were aware of the Krofft’s work and wanted them to license their characters in an ad campaign for McDonalds to use. McDonalds ended up doing there campaign based on HR PufnStuf without credit to the Kroffts.
Sid & Marty Krofft sued McDonalds in 1973 and successfully won their case. McDonalds were initially ordered to pay them $50,000. Yeah, it seems pretty pathetic. But, later they were finally ordered to pay them over 1 million in damages when the case was finally closed in 1977. That’s about the time when the phased out “McDonaldland”. You can read more about the lawsuit here.
So, lets take a look at some of the Characters (besides Ronald) in McDonaldland:
This is not the Grimace that you may know today. In fact he started out being the “Evil Grimace”. His fetish was stealing shakes. One of the commercials he actually steals empty cups. Why would anyone do that? He also had 4 arms. It’s strange to say, but seeing a purple blob with 4 arms instead of the 2 that I’m familiar with is very disturbing. He was clumsy & stupid, which Ronald would use to his advantage.
He was the Mayor of McDonaldland. And he’s basically the character totally ripped off from HR Pufnstuf. McCheese was a big headed major who had press conferences in front of McDonalds to declare that cheeseburgers were delicious or some other nonsense. He hung out with his cop buddy, Big Mac.
Before Mark Mcgwire aquired the nickname, there was Officer Big Mac. He was the law in McDonaldland. Surprisingly, there was a lot of crime in McDonaldland, especially thieves. So, there needed to be a cop. He was dressed like a keystone cop. Usually Ronald would have to help him catch the bad-guy since he couldn’t accomplish it on his own.
The older version of the hamburglar didn’t have the whole ‘robble robble’ phrase. He also had a disturbingly long pointy nose. He almost looked like a spy vs spy character. He would basically steal hamburgers any chance he got. Ninety Nine percent of the time, he’d be caught in the act, but they’d still give him a burger at the end and laugh about it. In one commercial, they sacrifice a shake to get the stolen hamburgers back.
More bad-guys in McDonaldland? The goblins would make weird noises and they loved to steal the french fries. They were later renamed to “Fry Guys” then even later to the “Fry Kids”. The were like Mops or pompoms with legs.
The last bad-guy in McDonaldland was Captain Crook. He loved Fillet-O-Fish Sandwiches. He was dressed like a pirate, and would fail just like all the bad guys. He hung out by Fillet-O-Fish Lake to steal sandwiches from people would caught them from the lake. Why didn’t he just get a fishing pole and get them himself?
Anyway, McDonaldland was a strange place, but they really sell the food. Just watching those old commercials makes me crave a triple thick shake. Below are a bunch of the McDonaldland commercials I found on YouTube, enjoy!