Here’s the sequel to something I wrote back in 2007, about old McDonald’s “trayliners.” You know, the paper placemats that lined our trays whenever we ate at McD’s. Truly, the biggest disadvantage of taking your food to go was missing the chance to watch oily fries turn a trayliner translucent.
Since the trayliners were typically used as “ad space,” they’re great reminders of McD’s ancient, awesome promotions. Here are six random examples…
#1: Richie Rich Trayliner (1994)
I’ve never seen this film. It all started with my unreasonable resistance to anything starring Macaulay Culkin after Home Alone. I don’t know what that was about. Maybe it’s because we’re roughly the same age, and I had some teenage jealousy?
For a movie that I know nothing about and will never see, I’m strangely drawn to its trayliner. A silver platter and a prop newspaper really do make fast food seem more sophisticated. I also dig how those mysterious hands hint less at a butler and more at Mickey Mouse.
If I was making an artsy film, I’d start on this shot. The rest of the movie would play out in flashbacks, slowly revealing the chain of events that led Mickey to serve fries and a phony newspaper on a silver platter. Critics would find it “pandering,” but I don’t give a shit.
Google says that Richie had his own private McDonald’s in the film. So I guess this was the lesser-end of a deal between McDonald’s and Warner Bros.?
“We see the inclusion of McDonald’s in our film to be a mutually beneficial partnership, with substantial rewards for everyone involved. But the candy would be so much sweeter if you threw in some trayliners.”
#2: Six Flags Ohio Trayliner (2000)
I’ve never been to Six Flags Ohio, but I’m very intrigued by the mention of Batman: Knight Flight. We had Batman rides at Six Flags Great Adventure, but not that one.
The ride still exists today, but it’s been relocated and rebranded as The Dominator. According to Wikipedia, the floorless coaster has the third highest vertical loop on the planet. Course, the ride’s twists and turns mean less to me than its original Batman theme, and thank God for YouTube, because there’s a video of the whole thing in its original state:
I don’t know how you do a four minute news piece on a Batman ride and not work in a shot of Batman. Why didn’t they grab one from the live show? I know Six Flags Ohio had one… it’s advertised right on the trayliner!
#3: Batman Forever Movie Memorabilia Trayliner (1995)
Wow, I haven’t seen Batman Forever in ages. For some reason, I bet it’s aged well. What seemed like a silly devolution in 1995 probably works as a brilliant spoof in 2013. Plus, I always loved how Riddler’s hair changed from scene to scene. Were they wigs, or what?
The featured memorabilia doesn’t appeal to me. The hat is okay, but boy, those are some ugly t-shirts. Plus, something about official “studio store” clothing just bugs the hell out of me. I guess it’d be silly to say that the clothes don’t feel true to the movies they were based on, but somehow, they don’t. On the upside, they encapsulate the thrill of receiving birthday presents from people who barely know you. Who wouldn’t want a polo shirt with a faint Batman logo over the breast? You couldn’t even wear that to a comic convention without getting “the look.”
#4: NBA / Looney Tunes Trayliner (1995)
You want truth? Fine, here’s some truth. I am apathetic about everything on this trayliner. I like Looney Tunes just fine, but it doesn’t “stir” me in any way. Same with the “collectible cups” concept. Same with the shade of red that secretly wants to be orange, for that matter.
Basically, this is a mash of things that I don’t dislike, but can’t find it in my heart to like a little bit more.
…eh, maybe I spoke too soon. The cups had basketball players all over them. To say that this wasn’t my area of expertise would be well beyond the confines of “exaggeration.” Since I have nothing to contribute to any conversations about this trayliner, I’m just gonna use this space to do math.
2 + 7 = 9 – 3 = 6 x 5 = 30 x 2 = 60 / 2 = 20 + 7 = 27 x 3 = 81 + 100 = 181 – 2 = 179.
#5: Teenie Beanie Babies Trayliner (2000)
Despite being so often lampooned, the Beanie Babies craze was largely harmless. Knocking it because you think the dolls were dumb, or because they managed to grab an unusually “older” demographic, is silly. At the end of the day, there were tons of people – young and old – who had plenty of good times collecting the things. Making anyone feel bad about their safer passions, however trivial, is a shitty thing to do.
Course, it’s also tough to deny that the fad brought out some of the worst aspects of collecting anything. The screwy ideas about “value.” The dolls becoming an “investment” at best and “currency” at worst. Collectors who bought too heavily into the hype treated the dolls as if they were stocks, and what began as a harmless hobby sometimes turned to manic hoarding. Led by dealers who had every reason to encourage it, certain collectors believed that any money poured into Beanie Babies would come back to them “with interest” later.
That was the secret gimmick that made the dolls so successful. I recognize it plain as day, because even if I never collected Beanie Babies, so many of the things I did collect shared similarly wonky ideals. Beanie Babies only seemed worse because it was SUCH a phenomenon, and because it tickled the fancies of people who didn’t normally “do” things like this.
All of the above ties very directly to what was being advertised on this trayliner. McDonald’s “Teenie” Beanie Babies were smaller but still part of the brand, and the stories about people going batshit over them are legendary. Cursory research shows that a few are still considered valuable, but by and large, you can buy them for peanuts now.
In the end, collecting will always have roots in supposed “value” and supposed “rarity.” I guess it’s just important to know where to draw the line?
#6: Toy Story 2 Trayliner (1999)
I saved my favorite trayliner for last. If any of these are getting framed, it’s this one.
The Toy Story 2 candy dispensers are neat enough, but I’m more interested in the special edition “holiday food” shown on the right. Say what you will about McDonald’s nutrition, but they sure know how to make fast food look Christmassy. Let’s zoom in…
I’ve never eaten a McDonald’s pie in my life, but if I had to start somewhere, it’d be here. That Woody-wrapped “Holiday Custard-Style Pie” is drop dead gorgeous. It deserves to be painted.
And here’s my attempt to do that, but with Photoshop instead of actual paint.
The horse looks like a werewolf paw, belonging to a werewolf who’s in the midst of saying “puh-leeze.”
And that was intentional.
Thanks for reading about old trayliners.