The McDonaldland characters, even though they haven’t been seen in any McDonald’s ads since 2003, hold a special place in the hearts of the millions who grew up eating McDonald’s. You can most likely still rattle off a few of them from memory: Ronald (obviously), the Hamburglar, Grimace, Mayor McCheese… that’s probably about it. But did you know that there were more than 20 McDonaldland characters in all?
First introduced as part of an ad campaign in the early 1970s, the characters came into their own during the 1980s, when they were featured in dozens of commercials, a kid’s magazine, and a 1989 made-for-TV movie called McDonaldland Treasure Island. The playplaces were decked out in McDonaldland themes, Happy Meal boxes featured the characters, and all seemed well in McDonaldland. But after a videotape series called The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald ended in 2001, the company decided to phase them out entirely in favor of going full-on with their “I’m lovin’ it” campaign.
While they haven’t appeared in commercials since (we’re pretending that the Hamburglar didn’t make a recent live-action return), the characters can still be seen in play areas, on kids’ seats, on some cookie pouches, and on McDonald's social media channels. Ronald, who recently got a makeover, doesn’t even appear in commercials very often anymore, and fast food marketing to children is on the decline (which is probably a good thing), but he has a surprisingly active Instagram feed.
But still, those characters were pretty legendary. The “robble robble”-ing Hamburglar; big, purple Grimace (who McDonald’s inexplicably described as “the embodiment of a milkshake”); and Mayor McCheese, with his giant cheeseburger head. You might even remember Birdie the Early Bird, a yellow bird with a pink jumpsuit and flight cap. But there are a handful of other characters who have been largely forgotten. Here are five.