McDonaldland

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.

mcdonaldland

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 pufnstuf

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.

bigmac & grimace

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:

grimace
Grimace

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.

Mayor McCheese
Mayor McCheese

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.

Big Mac
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.

hamburglar
Hamburglar

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.

the goblins
Goblins

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.

Captain Crook
Captain Crook

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!

-Greg
3/20/08

10 Responses to “McDonaldland”

  1. Jay

    21. Mar, 2008

    Greg, awesome post. I loved McDonaldland as a kid. It’s not the same anymore. These pictures you posted are kick-ass. I actually have a collection of old promotional glasses that have the Mcdonald characters on them. The commercials you posted were before me also but I was at the tail end of that whole thing and those commercials had charm and fantasy compared to their campaigns now. Using people in costumes is becoming more rare. Thank God Chuck E. Cheese still exists, that’s our only link to restaraunts of our childhood. Love this post.

  2. Greg

    21. Mar, 2008

    Thanks for the nice comment!

    I was born in 77, about at the end of the campaign too. I do remember a secret back room of my McDonalds. That’s where the wonderful kids birthday parties were held. Each kid got a happy meal along with extra mcdonalds trinkets like a mcdonalds hat with all the mcdonaldland characters on it. And at the end of the party someone dressed up as Ronald McDonald would bring out a birthday cake. I don’t think they do that type of stuff anymore.

    You’re right about Chuck E. Cheese, although, it was ShowBiz Pizza around here when I was a kid. Then when I was a teenager all the ShowBiz’s became Chuck E. Cheeses.

  3. Bree Kronich

    02. Jun, 2010

    There’s an totally right on drawing of the “Hamburglar “on James DeWeaver’ s site,I think it’s titled “Death by Hamburglar” he is both friends and contemporaries of U.K. graffiti Artist BANKSY and Spencer Tunick,Mr Nude himself!Well worth checking out,as there is also a pic done by Tunick in 2000,with both BANKSY and DeWeaver in it fully nude,along with about forty others 5*****!

  4. Charles

    03. Aug, 2010

    It’s sad and disturbing that Sid & Marty Krofft’s ideas were ripped off by this Junkfood Giant and is still raking in profits because of what they did, while the original owners of the idea are forgotten. Shame on you McDonald!

  5. sam

    13. Jun, 2011

    I was in first grade (age 6), when this commercial was shown on prime time television. I was fascinated as a kid to see a restaraunt character come to life with other new characters and promote this restaraunt. to new heights. Shortly after this commercial came about I had the privalege of meeting Ronald Mc Donald at a nearby Mc Donald’s restaraunt renovated with all the McDonaldland props and characters, however I was disappointed when I met Ronald Mc Donald because he was just an employee in a bad wig and costume. The announcer on the television commercial had me believing it was the real McCoy, or should I say Mc Donald.
    This commercial stays with me to this day and remids me how cool it was for it’s time. It took me about 39 years to find this commercial and I am glad it is available to watch even if it is in such a low quality format. Now my kids know exactly what I have been talking about all this time.

  6. Mark, I’m wondering if you are inside a good critique group? I do think it really is good to have your manuscript in as best form as you possibly can. I have employed professional editors myself, but mainly for grammar and spelling, etc. For story, characterization, plot, etc., I use my critique group that meets every week. Thank you for your question and best wishes on your writing! Jan

  7. Justin

    30. Aug, 2015

    What is that commercial where they sacrifice a shake and why is it a big deal it wasnt like they sacrifice the softdrink from the happy meal gang

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