Finding McDonaldland: Meet Ronald McDonald’s Friends! (Pt. 2)

AW360 readers, we’re back to visiting the wonderfully magical McDonaldland! In our last post, we discovered more about Mayor McCheese, the Hamburglar, Grimace, and Birdie the Early Bird. Now, let’s take a look at some of the lesser-known icons in McDonaldland that were part of Ronald’s BFF squad.

The Happy Meal Gang + McNugget Buddies
Introduced in:
1984.
Portrayed/voiced by: The Happy Meal Hamburger was voiced by Bob Arbogast and Jim Cummings while the Happy Meal Fries were voiced by Jeff Winkless and later by Bob Bergen and Tress MacNeille. The Happy Meal Drink was voiced by Hal Smith and later by Bill Farmer. Hal Rayle voiced the McNugget Buddies in commercial spots.

All of your components of a Happy Meal can be found in the Happy Meal Gang — a hamburger, fries, and soft drink — who would later be joined by McNugget Buddies in the late 1980s. In 2001, the squad would be given bow ties as an accessory with the Fries changed from male to female, and a Happy Meal Box and Toy Bag joining the lineup.

Captain Crook
Introduced in: 1971.
Portrayed/voiced by: Robert Towers performed Captain Crook while Larry Storch and Lennie Weinrib voiced the character.

Arr, he’s a pirate on the hunt for Filet-O-Fish! Inspired by Captain Hook in the Disney film Peter Pan, Captain Crook (originally referred to as “Captain Codfish” in his preliminary stages) was a seafaring sailor with his eye on snatching up as many Filet-O-Fish sandwiches as he could along with his parrot Matey. He avoided Officer Big Mac by using ships and waterways to escape being captured. In 1983, the Captain was upgraded with a new redesign. Previously, the Captain had worn a mask and was given softer facial appliances and a new outfit from the design team at Leo Burnett.

The Professor
Introduced in: 1971.
Portrayed/voiced by: Howard Morris voiced the Professor in the 1970s and Andre Stojka took over in the 1980s.

As the resident McDonaldland inventor and researcher, the Professor rarely spoke in his 1970s introduction. However, by the 1980s, he became a much more prominent character and was redesigned in 1983 to be given a lab coat, mustache, and lightblub-topped helmet.

Officer Big Mac
Introduced in: 1971.
Portrayed/voiced by: Jerry Maren performed the character and Ted Cassidy voiced him.

Keeping the peace in McDonaldland was none other than Officer Big Mac, who tended to spend a great deal of time chasing after the Hamburglar and Captain Crook throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Much like Mayor McCheese, he also had a burger for a head —but he shared the same name as McDonald’s signature sandwich.

Fry Kids
Introduced in: 1972.
Portrayed/voiced by: A variety of vocal talent voiced these icons over the years, but in the film The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald, they were voiced by Kath Soucie, Paul Greenberg, and Nika Futterman.

Out of all of the major McDonaldland transformations, nothing quit beats the evolution of the Fry Kids. In their first appearances, they were called “Gobblins” and spent their time trying to gobble up French fries from other characters. You could always tell if a Gobblin was heading your way because they had shaggy yarn hair and snappy shoes.

Luckily, this motley crew was remodeled in 1983 to become the “Fry Guys” with the “Fry Girls” introduced in 1986 making them officially the “Fry Kids.” They resembled a cluster of pom-poms with no arms, wide eyes, and long legs that made it easy for them to grab fries on the go — but not so easy to outsmart Ronald McDonald who was always a couple of steps ahead of them!

Image credits: McDonaldland: Filming in McDonaldland

2 Comments
  1. Hi ya Heather. Great article about the McDonaldland Characters. Thanks for putting it together, and giving my Facebook page credit for the images and stuff.
    Some of the links for your commercials have expired or been deleted. Maybe you can replace them. I just discovered your articles, and was very pleased that you were so accurate. I copied the link to both of your pieces and just posted them on to my “McDonaldland. Filming In McDonaldland” Facebook page. What a nice surprise to see it organized so well. Thanks for the fun. Rich Seidelman.

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