See Ronald McDonald’s Nightmarish First Appearance

Hamburgers come out of his crotch region.

It's Ronald McDonald's 50th anniversary this year. If he had been actually eating McDonald's product all that time, he'd likely be dead now. But that's neither here nor there, since Ronald McDonald isn't even real. Sorry to blindside you with that, but it's the truth. He's just a dude in a suit - a succession of dudes in suits, actually.

And that succession began in 1963 with Williard Scott, best known to old people like me as the former weatherman on The Today Show, until Al Roker usurped the throne. Early in his career Scott worked as the host of children's shows (including a regional version of Bozo  the Clown), and McDonald's asked him to create a clown mascot for the burgeoning restaurant chain. What Scott came up with was... well, horrifying, to say the least.

The original Ronald, who appeared in a trio of TV commercials, had a cup for a nose and some kind of junk food Carmen Miranda hat. And at crotch level was a tray of McDonald's food; if you took a hamburger off the tray a new one would magically appear, possibly from the drink cup we can assume hangs between Ronald's legs. Scott's Ronald has a voice like a hobo who subsists only on Thunderbird, and he makes threatening statements like "I like to do everything boys and girls like to do." 

Scott played Ronald until 1965; according to the book Fast Food Nation Scott was canned because the McDonald's corporation was concerned that he was too fat, creating a bad image for the company. If the 'hambugrer happy clown' was so fat, wouldn't all McDonald's consumers get fat and unhealthy*? By 1967 a version of Ronald that is much more familiar to us - a hideous demon of marble skin and blood red hair - had been created, leaving the original crotch-tray clown to the obscure sands of history.


* Yes.