While many of us may not need encouragement to head to our local fast food joint, fast food mascots exist to promote the greasy, fatty, totally delicious foods of our favorite chain restaurants. If you're questioning your decision to head to the drive-thru, the frozen face of the Burger King or Ronald McDonald's painted smile will be just what you need to put your doubts aside and visit your favorite franchise. It might be flawed logic, but we're not complaining. Fast food mascots have given us plenty of fond memories throughout the years, and - even more importantly - plenty of content for some of our favorite memes.
However, not all mascots are created equal. Some of the best fast food mascots are also the stuff of nightmares. Certain creatures are lovable and sweet, but others are better left in the past. Check out the list of fast food mascots below to vote up your favorites and determine which mascots were a good branding choice, and which were a mistake.
History: When Wendy's first opened in 1969, founder Dave Thomas decided to use his 8-year-old daughter as the inspiration for his logo. Thus, Wendy's created a mascot people know and love: a freckled little girl with bright red hair that falls in impossibly voluminous pigtails sticking out from the sides of her head.
However, this depiction of Wendy served only as a logo, as the young girl never made it into Wendy's commercials. Later, Wendy appeared as a charismatic young woman who loved the food. Finally, Wendy appeared as herself. That's right, the real Wendy Thomas starred in a Wendy's ad, using her personal history to promote the fast food chain. Today, Wendy's still features the young, freckle-faced girl as their primary logo, even though the real Wendy Thomas has grown up.
Why She's Great: Wendy is undeniably recognizable. She's been the primary logo of Wendy's since the beginning and her image is irrevocably tied to the restaurant chain. Her personality is a central part of the fast food chain - that of a sweet young girl with plenty of pep and enthusiasm. Plus, her association with her father gives the brand a family feel, even though it has grown into a huge corporation.10350Great mascot?
History: Grimace is a large purple blob used to represent McDonald's. In the early days of his appearance as a McDonald's mascot, Grimace appeared as Evil Grimace, a purple monster with an obsessive need to swipe milkshakes. He had a scaly appearance, four arms, and no charm. Unfortunately, the original portrayal of this anthropomorphic blob scared children away. The McDonald's creative team quickly realized their mistake and tweaked the character into a plush-looking, two-armed creature whose only goal was to drink McDonald's milkshakes and hang out with Ronald. The Grimace of today is a well-meaning but simple-minded creature who's both clueless and clumsy.
Why He's Great: Grimace acts primarily as a comedic mascot for McDonald's. His simple nature is endearing to children everywhere, but it also brings a bit of comedy into McDonald's campaigns. He's a humorous sidekick for Ronald McDonald with a good heart. He's a favorite among children everywhere, probably because he acts much like a child himself.9661Great mascot?
History: The Hamburglar is another one of the many McDonald's mascots. A resident of McDonaldland, the Hamburglar first appeared in 1971. He was originally portrayed as a terrifying old man with rat-like teeth and stringy gray hair who wanted to snag hamburgers. Thankfully, McDonald's creators realized that their original portrayal was far too scary and changed the Hamburglar into the striped, snaggle-toothed rascal we all know and love. This depiction ran around nabbing burgers and stashing them in his sack until he disappeared from the public eye in 2002. The Hamburglar returned to McDonald's ads in 2015, this time as a suburban dad with a sort of attractive appeal.
Why He's Great: While the suburban dad version of the Hamburglar isn't well known, the impish, cartoon-like version definitely is. This character just wants to eat hamburgers - that's it. He encourages you to eat as fast as you possibly can - otherwise, he might take your meal. He's cute and plays well with the other characters in McDonaldland, even if he is a crook.8661Great mascot?
Jack (Jack In The Box)
History: At the first Jack in the Box location, which opened in 1951, Jack sat on the roof to catch the eye of passing motorists. In 1980, however, Jack in the Box decided to move away from the cutesy clown figure. To distance themselves from Jack, they blew up the original clown in one of their commercials.
In 1994, Jack made his return in much the same way he left. But this time, Jack got revenge by blowing up their boardroom.
Since then, Jack has appeared as the straight-to-business exec still featured in ads today. In the years since his return, Jack has fought people who don't like his food, coordinated a presidential campaign, and made it through various controversies regarding his blunt advertising style.
Why He's Great: As a mascot, Jack is pretty well-rounded. He has an interesting family history that explains his genetic mutation that incorporates a ping-pong ball for a head. He has plenty of outside interests, including past experience in a heavy metal band. Most importantly, he's totally committed to his fast food empire. He's not above tongue-in-cheek humor and is actually quite funny.6277Great mascot?