Let’s face it: McDonald’s may be the poster child for everything wrong in American culture NOW but when we were kids it was the poster child for everything right (food the way you like it right now with a toy and a killer business model) and McDonald’s conquered the world wide market during exponential growth from 1980-1990. 80s kids remember when Happy Meals had real toys and ‘fruit’ hadn’t yet made it fast-food vocabulary (fruit is only fast if it’s pre-peeled); when Ronald McDonald was somebody to get excited about and if your kid choked on a Happy Meal toy it was your own damned fault for letting them stuff a whole matchbox car in their mouth. 80s kids will also remember the downfall of fast food- the health craze that swept the country and pulled McD’s right along with it- adding no-cholesterol, no-fat, sandwiched-between-cardboard foodstuffs. Those little cherry pies were never the same again.
Get reacquainted with the McDonaldland gang up through 1990:
Ronald McDonald -introduced in 1965 and redone in 1967
Big Mac the Policeman (Constable of McDonaldland) – 1968
Uncle O’Grimacey (Grimace’s Irish uncle)-1970s
The Hamburgler – redone in 1987 from his original old man appearance
Mayor McCheese (Mayor of McDonaldland)
The Fry Guys/ Fry Girls/ Fry Kids – introduced in 1978 and originally called Goblins / goblin-up-fries
The Happy Meal Guys (Fries, Burger, Cookies and a Shake puppets) – introduced 1979
Birdy the Earlybird – introduced in 1980
The McNugget Buddies – introduced in 1983
CosMc! – introduced in 1988
What was McDonald’s doing in the 80s?
1980– McDonald’s turned 25.
A floating McDonald’s opened on the Mississippi riverfront near the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
Mike Quinlan became president of McDonald’s USA.
Renewal of McDonald’s most successful ad campaign- “You deserve a break today.”
McDonald’s ad campaign “Nobody makes your day like McDonald’s can.”
1981– Worldwide sales top $7 billion
McDonald’s launches ad campaign “That’s My McDonald’s.”
1982 – McDonald’s launches ad campaign “We cook it all for you at McDonald’s.”
1983– McDonald sets up shop in 32 countries around the world.
The Hamburger University opens in Oak Brook, IL.
McDonald’s launches its ad campaigns “McDonald’s and you.”
Chicken McNuggets premiere on the menu.
The 45th billion hamburger is served.
1984– Ray Kroc, founder of McDonalds dies 14th January. Ronald McDonald’s Children’s Charities founded in his memory.
Chicken McNuggets go global.
McDonald’s launches ad campaign “It’s a good time for the great taste of McDonald’s.”
McDonald’s served its 50 billionth burger.
Sales pass $10 billion.
McDonald’s celebrates the 10th anniversary of Ronald McDonald House.
1985– McDonald’s turns 30.
McDonald’s launches the “Large Fries for Small Fries” promotion with Mary Lou Retton.
McDonald’s launches ad campaigns “30 years of good times and great taste,” and “It’s Mac Tonight.”
The McBlimp premieres over New York City.
The McD.L.T. premieres on the menu with the “The Hot stays Hot and the Cool stays Cool” song.
1986– McDonald’s adds freshly baked buttermilk biscuits to the breakfast menu.
McDonald’s launches ad campaign “McDonald’s is your place to be.”
McDonald’s produces the first ever advert using sign language ad open caption for the hearing impaired entitled “Silent Persuasion.”
The 60 millionth hamburger is served.
McDonald’s becomes the first fast food restaurant to provide an ingredient listing for their menu items.
1987– Fresh tossed salads added to the menu.
Sears, Roebuck and Co. starts carrying the McKids clothing line.
McDonald’s Hamburger University graduates its 30,000th student.
The Ray A. Kroc museum opens in Oak Brook Plaza.
1988 – Agreements are signed to bring McDonald’s to the U.S.S.R.
The 70 billionth hamburger is served.
McDonald’s launches ad campaign “The good time, great taste of McDonald’s.”
1989– The Country-style McChicken Sandwich joins the menu.
The Big Mac turns 21.
Muppet Baby dolls are sold to benefit Ronald McDonald Charities and Ronald McDonald Houses.
McDonald’s launches ad campaign “You deserve a break today.”
1990– The 80 billionth hamburger is served.
New menu items added: Cheerios, Wheaties, No-fat, no cholesterol apple-bran muffins, Low-fat milkshakes, frozen yoghurt, fruit sorbet, Chunky Chicken Salad (replaces Chicken Salad Oriental).
Fries are switched over to cholesterol-free 100% vegetable oil and butter is replaced with margarine.
McDonald’s opens in Moscow.
McDonald’s introduces McRecycle USA and announces it will begin phasing out plastic foam packaging. Recycled carry-out bags are introduced in New York.
McDonald’s turns 35.
Ad campaign “Food, folks and fun” begins.
Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue anti-drug special is presented by McDonald’s and distributed to schools, libraries, video stores and community groups for free rental.
Chris Burke (Corky on Life Goes On) becomes the McDonald’s spokesman for the McJobs programme to hire disabled persons.