Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Big Purple Thing That Isn't Barney the Dinosaur

So this has been plaguing me since, oh, I was seven or so. In the world of the McDonald’s mascots, each of Ronald McDonald’s acquaintances has some clear association with the food products his restaurant sells. The Hamburglar steals hamburgers. Mayor McCheese is a cheeseburger. The Fry Kids are made of French fries. And Birdie the Early Bird, horrifically, would appear to be unprocessed Chicken McNuggets. But exactly what is Grimace? McDonald’s sells no products that are purple or pear-shaped, but there he is nonetheless, all stupid and clumsy and purple and antithetical to the very fiber of the McDonaldland existence. (Please keep in mind that I was the same kid who was frustrated by the liberal interpretation of Santa Cruz geography in “The Lost Boys.”) Recently, I did some research and learned the story behind Grimace, seen below clutching a yellow feather for reasons I’ll never know.



Apparently, Grimace was created originally as a McDonaldland villain. Called “The Evil Grimace,” this purple meanie — whose name makes a hell of a lot more sense in the context of being evil — initially had four arms, all the better for stealing McDonald’s milkshakes, his addiction to which ostensibly drove him to a life of crime. I suppose this then would explain what Grimace’s food association is, though if he looks like anything that goes into McDonald’s shakes — and I wouldn’t be surprised if he did — I think I’m going to be sick. Note the next illustration, which depicts the Evil Grimace.



Like Smurfette or Donkey Kong, Grimace switched over to the good guy side shortly after his debut. No longer evil, he instead became clumsy and slow-witted — and also Ronald’s best friend. (You know how to pick ’em, Ron.) He’s been confusing inquisitive McDonald’s patrons ever since.

The mystery of Grimace has been explored by several websites in the past few years. Ask Yahoo ran an item on it, but also concluded that Grimace is, in fact, nothing. (The writer also likens Grimace’s lack of a clear species to Disney’s Goofy and Gonzo of the Muppets, noting “Maybe all this ambiguousness has something to do with the letter ‘G.’”) A website called The Straight Dope also tackled the question, with more amusing results. Cecil Adams, the site’s letter-answerer contacts a McDonald’s spokeswoman, who reads from the official McDonald’s description.
Grimace personifies the child in everyone… He is Ronald [McDonald]'s special pal. Everyone loves Grimace because of his innocent loving nature. He occasionally causes trouble in McDonaldland because he is clumsy, but his friends overlook this because he is so happy.
Adams continues:
You are gagging, I expect. So am I. [Spokeswoman] Jane Hulbert is… well, Jane is doing her best to be professional about this, but it's a struggle. Here's more: Hamburglar is a “fun-loving prankster.” The Happy Meal Guys are the “fun-loving personification of the hamburger, soft drink, and fries that compose the Happy Meal.” CosMc is a “wacky fun-loving alien who came to McDonaldland from outer space” and is “part vehicle and part creature.” (“I can't believe they pay me to read this,” Jane muttered at this point, but we promised we wouldn't tell the Kroc family.)
Perhaps the best results of such an investigation were yielded Ben Kosima at The Rubber Chicken. Instead of contacting McDonald’s directly, Kosima emailed a multitude of celebrities, including George W. Bush, the Olsen Twins, the Ninja Turtles, Cousin Oliver from “The Brady Bunch” and the guy who inspired Kramer from “Seinfeld.” Kosima’s conclusion: Grimace is a giant, cloned beetroot.

Well, I thought it was funny. And for the record, no, I don't know who the sailor-capped dog in the first Grimace image is, and I vow to never dedicate a blog post to finding out.

1 comment:

  1. Kinda reminds me of Goldar from Power Rangers...

    ReplyDelete