When you think of McDonald’s, you likely think of Ronald McDonald. The bovine world’s least favorite clown undoubtedly has the most recognition, but many members of Generations X and Y will be familiar with the secondary characters of McDonaldland. In addition to Ronald, we grew up with the Hamburglar, Grimace, Mayor McCheese, and of course, Officer Big Mac.1 Yet apparently, McDonald’s advertising has used only Ronald for over a decade. Small wonder, then, that their sales have been falling.
The New Hamburglar
Earlier this month, McDonald’s unveiled their latest plan to stop the sales skid. They’re bringing back the Hamburglar. Sort of, anyway:
My God! What have you done? This is not my beautiful Hamburglar!
Here’s a statement from McDonald’s on the new Hamburglar:
“We felt it was time to debut a new look for the Hamburglar after he’s been out of the public eye all these years,” Joel Yashinsky, McDonald’s’ Vice President of U.S. Marketing said in a statement to Mashable. “He’s had some time to grow up a bit and has been busy raising a family in the suburbs and his look has evolved over time.”
The Hamburglar has been busy. Raising a family. In the suburbs.
Yeah, you know what? I’m inclined to agree. Just shh, Mr. Yashinsky. Shhhhhh. Shut up. This is awful. I mean, Christ, what an asshole!:
The Original Hamburglar
Of course, it could be worse. In fact, when the Hamburglar first premiered, it was worse. You see, the Hamburglar began life as an old man.2 I first discovered this particular piece of insanity at a flea market, when I came upon a plush Hamburglar who looked nothing like the one I’d known all my life:
Needless to say, I was disturbed.
[Photo courtesy: P. Kafasis]
To explain this, let’s take a brief trip back to 1971, when some hack ad execs decided to rip off an Saturday morning children’s TV show called “H.R. Pufnstuf”.3 Said hacks created the magical “McDonaldland” and populated it with a collection of strange characters, along with hamburgers sprouting from plants. Among these were the Evil Grimace and the original Hamburglar. Gaze upon him and despair:
Sweet merciful crap, why aren’t any of his parts connected?
That utterly horrifying image above was soon toned down to be only mostly horrifying:
Pretty scary, rather than truly terrifying
The Lone Jogger
Allow me to take a brief detour so as to note that in the mid ’70s, the Hamburglar was inexplicably known as the “Lone Jogger”. I guess because jogging was a popular fad? I really just have no explanation for that particular nonsense, but if you don’t believe me, do check the video tape. And if you think “There’s no way someone has uploaded a McDonald’s commercial from 40 years ago to YouTube”, well think again, you foolish pessimist!4
The Hamburglar’s appearance fluctuated throughout the ’70s and early ’80s. Sometimes he looked like he was coming to claim your immortal soul, and sometimes he just looked like he might merely pop out of the woods and scare the wits out of you. Throughout it all he remained, at a minimum, “a frightening old man”. Really, what child would want cookies that came in a box like this?
[Image credit: jasonliebigstuff]
Once again, McDonald’s toned things down, and a few years late, the cookie box featured a softened old man:
[Image credit: BigSpinCoaster]
While I wouldn’t choose to look at him, at least this Hamburglar could be ignored easily enough. Thankfully, he was also nearing retirement. It was almost time for his replacement.
The One True Hamburglar
Let it be known that I have strong opinions about the Hamburglar, and that these opinions are correct. The right Hamburglar, the best Hamburglar, the one true Hamburglar, is this little munchkin:
Yes, I will readily proclaim my staunch loyalty to the Hamburglar I grew up with. While it’s only natural to idealize the heroes of our youth, anyone with an ounce of sense can see that the lovable Dennis the Menace-looking imp is vastly superior to all other Hamburglars. It’s just no contest:
There’s only one of these ’burglars you’d want to join for a burger.
In comparing Hamburglars, we can dispense with the decrepit wraith Hamburglar right off the bat. He was an abomination, and how he managed to survive in advertising for more than a decade, I’ll never know. I can only attribute it to the copious drug use which occurred at that time.
As for the smug asshole dad McDonald’s just unveiled, let’s be serious. A real Hamburglar wears a cape, not a goddamned duster. His tie should be comically oversized, not suitable for the office. And he damn sure ought to only have one big old middle tooth, or at most two.
Setting aside appearances, there’s also the logic of the crime to consider. Children are notoriously broke, and they also love unhealthy fast food, so they may certainly be interested in swiping some burgers. Even a senior citizen really has nothing to lose, given his looming demise. But for a thirty-something adult, with a family, the economics of hamburger theft just don’t make sense. The risks of the crime far outweigh the meager rewards. This “suburban dad” is unlikely to be so badly hurting for money that he’d steal a couple bucks’ worth of food. A few greasy sliders can’t possibly be worth the chance that he’ll spend the next three to five years of his life seeing his family through a thick sheet of Lexan.
From looks to motive, it’s just so obvious that the youthful Hamburglar is the way to go. He is the lord, our Hamburglar, and we shall have no other Hamburglars before him.
A Closing Devotional
Now sure, I talk big of my love for the real Hamburglar, but perhaps you question my dedication and committment. Allow me to put your doubts to rest. When it came time to run a costumed relay race as part of a team dressed as cops and robbers5, I chose to deck myself out as the world’s most famous thief. Of course I modeled my costume after the boyish scamp version of the Hamburglar, even shaving clean for the part. You can be sure that spectators of the race absolutely loved this:
As a child, I served a nickel in Officer Big Mac’s Cheeseburger Head Correctional Facility.
[Photo credit: Jonathan McIntosh]
Like Benjamin Button! ↩︎
Sid and Marty Krofft, creators of H.R. Pufnstuf, sued McDonald’s. They eventually received over a million dollars for the IP theft. ↩︎
Ya know, like ya do. ↩︎