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Fast Food Mascots Weren’t Always Cute and Cuddly. Here’s Proof

The Exchange

Goodbye, Grimace.

So long, Colonel Sanders.

Hit the lights on your way out, Mayor McCheese.

The age of the fast-food restaurant mascot is ending, as more and more chains move away from costumed characters to instead focus their marketing efforts on fresh ingredients and healthy menu options.

McDonald’s dropped the McDonaldland gang – including Mayor McCheese, the Hamburglar and Grimace, among others – in 2003, and Burger King hasn’t used its King mascot in advertisements since 2011. Even the Taco Bell Chihuahua has been retired, last appearing in an ad for the Mexican food chain in 2000. KFC's Colonel Sanders was nowhere to be found when the chain unveiled its upmarket KFC eleven concept this summer.

But the truth is, these fast food mascots and many others are all but unrecognizable today when compared to their original versions. For example, Ronald McDonald first appeared in 1963 with a food tray for a hat and a paper cup for a nose (and was played by future Today Show weatherman Willard Scott).

And that’s just the beginning. Now that the age of the fast food mascot is ending, take a look above at what the characters from Burger King, McDonald’s, KFC and others looked like when they first hit the airwaves.

Ronald McDonald, circa 1963















The Burger King, circa 1955














The Original Wendy, circa 1969

















Chuck E. Cheese, circa 1977











Colonel Sanders
















Grimace, circa 1971









The Hamburglar, circa 1971
















What do you think? Will you miss the fast food mascots we all know and love once they're gone for good?