McDonald’s (Restaurant Chain) Homage Covers
Ronald McDonald, McDonald's Restaurant Mascot
McDonald's Restaurant "Golden Arches" Logo
McDonald’s (American Hamburger Restaurant Chain Franchiser)
McDonald’s is the world’s largest restaurant chain and franchiser, founded in the United States between 1954-1955, with 2020 revenues of $19.3 billion and more than 39,000 locations in approximately 100 countries. McDonald’s, due to its many locations and popularity, is also one of the world’s best-known brands. Its logo, particularly the “Golden Arches,” and products are instantly recognizable to people of all ages, races and cultures. The chain serves more than 47 million customers daily around the world. The chain’s worldwide menu includes hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken products, french fries, breakfast items, soft drinks, shakes, desserts and kid-friendly Happy Meals. In recent years, the popular chain has expanded its menu to include salads, wraps and fruit in response to criticism and changing consumer tastes for restaurants in general. Despite these challenges, the franchiser has maintained consistent, moderate growth since its founding in the 1950s.
Though the franchise was not founded until the mid-1950s, McDonald’s story actually begins in 1948, with a restaurant opened by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald in San Bernardino, California. Inspired by the assembly line concept of Henry Ford, the McDonald brothers introduced the “Speedee Service System” to their restaurant. McDonald’s original mascot was a man named “Speedee” with a hamburger shaped head wearing a chef’s hat. By 1969, Ronald McDonald replaced Speedee as the company’s official mascot.
McDonald’s first filed for a U.S. trademark on the McDonald’s name on May 4, 1961. Though several logo trademarks were filed in the interim, the world famous double arched “M” logo in use today did not appear until November 18, 1968, when the company filed for its U.S. trademark.
Ronald McDonald has been the primary mascot of McDonald’s for nearly 60 years (as of 2020), and “Chief Happiness Officer” since 2003. The character appears in television commercials and on company merchandising, marketing and packaging — even as a figure seated at children’s Playplaces at select restaurants. He lives in McDonaldland with his friends, lesser McDonald’s mascots, Grimace, Hamburgler and Birdie, among others. He was first portrayed on television by Willard Scott in 1963 and various actors afterwards. Some readers may best recognize Willard Scott as America’s famous Bozo the Clown from 1959-1962!
Though Scott claims to have created Ronald McDonald and is a reputable source, others dispute his claim. Scott performed in the first three separate television spots featuring Ronald McDonald, the Hamburger-Happy Clown, in 1963. In his book, The Joy of Living, Scott claims:
“At the time, Bozo was the hottest children’s show on the air. You could probably have sent Pluto the Dog or Dumbo the Elephant over and it would have been equally as successful. But I was there, and I was Bozo… There was something about the combination of hamburgers and Bozo that was irresistible to kids… That’s why when Bozo went off the air a few years later, the local McDonald’s people asked me to come up with a new character to take Bozo’s place. So, I sat down and created Ronald McDonald.”
Various forms of the name “Ronald McDonald” as well as costumed, clown-faced personas are registered trademarks of McDonald’s. McDonald’s trains performers to portray Ronald using identical mannerisms and costume, to contribute to the illusion that they are one character.
Ronald McDonald, a target for aforementioned criticisms regarding unhealthy menu items and childhood obesity, remains a prominent symbol for the American hamburger franchiser yet today. He has survived several makeovers with opinion and fashion changes since his creation in the early 1960s. CEO Don Thompson, in response to criticisms, has said that Ronald McDonald spreads joy and smiles.
If one were to look deeper, Ronald McDonald may also represent acceptance and diversity. His many friends in McDonaldland are of many shapes, sizes and colors. Yet they accept one another.