Y’all remember Grimace, right?
The purple dude, I mean. Ronald McDonald’s de facto best friend.
Throughout my childhood, Grimace was constantly on television, making commercial breaks tolerable with his adorably dopey demeanor and never-say-never attitude. (I’ll remind you that he once caught a literal freakin’ star to give to Ronald for Christmas.)
He was probably the most “purely sweet” character on TV at the time, which is what makes this next part so interesting:
Grimace used to be a VILLAIN.
Originally, Grimace was known as The Evil Grimace, a milkshake-stealing monster with four arms and a bad attitude!
That version of the character debuted in 1971, and spent several years as Ronald’s foil. This was all well before my time, and I gotta tell ya, seeing an extra-armed dickhead version of Grimace would’ve totally blown my mind as a kid.
The Evil Grimace even starred in several McDonald’s commercials during the 1970s. Three are collected below:
The Evil Grimace was singularly focused on milkshakes. In a pinch, he’d be satisfied just swiping empty milkshake cups from McDonald’s. Every villain needs an irrational obsession, right?
You’ll notice that despite his name, The Evil Grimace was more of a tricky pest than an outright demon.
(Photo courtesy of CollectingCandy. Used with permission.)
Even by the 1980s, evidence of Grimace’s complicated history lurked in the outdoor playgrounds attached to certain McDonald’s restaurants. (And by “certain” I mean the “especially antiquated” ones.)
The Evil Grimace Bounce & Bend debuted in 1972 and cost franchisees a little over a thousand bucks. I remember seeing the remains of this ride more than once as a kid, but I never gave it much thought since the extra arms (the ones around the cage bars) were always missing.
I’m not exactly sure when The Evil Grimace became plain old Grimace, but it had to be before I was born. It was a rehabilitation for the ages, where Grimace retained literally none of his original fiendishness.
McDonaldland used to be a much scarier place. Pirates used to attack people over fish sandwiches. The Hamburglar looked like something out of Beetlejuice. Hell, even the Fry Guys were originally known as Gobblins.
But nothing tops The Evil Grimace. To go from a sarcastic four-armed thief to an appendage who’d willingly spend entire afternoons watching clowns get haircuts? That’s pretty severe.
Grimace, I think somebody put a spell on you.
PS: Thanks to my bud FakeEyes22 for inspiring this article several months ago!