Why did McDonald’s get rid of Ronald McDonald?

FAST FOOD chain McDonald’s was once well known for its clown character mascot Ronald McDonald.

For decades the red-haired persona was synonymous with the popular restaurant but unfortunately for fans he hasn’t been seen since 2016.

Ronald McDonald was first introduced to McDonald's customers in the 1960s


Ronald McDonald was first introduced to McDonald’s customers in the 1960sCredit: Getty

Why did McDonald’s get rid of Ronald McDonald?

McDonald’s first introduced Ronald McDonald in 1963 as the world’s “newest, silliest, hamburger-eating-est clown”.

Many were sceptical of the new mascot but he quickly became the face of the fast-food chain and was loved by customers.

Ronald was often seen with his friends and fellow characters Mayor McCheese, the Hamburglar, Grimace, Birdie the Early Bird, and The Fry Kids.

The mascots inhabited the fictional world of McDonaldland.

Ronald’s reign came to an end in 2016 when McDonald’s told customers that he would be taking a hiatus.

The announcement followed a disturbing “killer clown “craze that saw pranksters jump out at people dressed as spooky clowns.

The unsettling trend began in the US but soon took off in the UK, with police declaring it “no laughing matter”.

What may have started as a joke quickly turned sinister as some “pranksters” started wielding weapons.

One incident in Durham, England saw a clown jump out and chase schoolchildren on their way to class.

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A statement released by McDonald’s at the time explained that due to the “current climate around clown sightings in communities,” it would be doing its best to be “thoughtful in respect to Ronald McDonald’s participation in community events”.

The statement on the McDonald’s website read: “We’re afraid that Ronald McDonald no longer appears in McDonald’s UK advertising, but he is still very busy working for us.

“He often travels up and down the country to help promote some of our exciting new activities and visits our restaurants to make sure everyone is enjoying their meals.”

Ronald remains a figure in the Ronald McDonald House Charities Logo but only his striped arm features.

Although the clown sightings were the main reason behind Ronald’s step back from the spotlight, people had actually been campaigning for McDonald’s to lose its mascot for years.

Critics claimed he was encouraging children to eat unhealthy foods and in 2011 a group of 550 doctors placed newspaper adverts insisting he retire.

The advert read: “We ask that you stop marketing junk food to children.

“The rates of sick children are staggering. Ballooning health care costs and an overburdened health care system make treatment more difficult than ever.

“And we know that reducing junk food marketing can significantly improve the health of kids.”

What is Ronald McDonald’s affiliation with McDonald’s? 

While Ronald might not be the face of McDonald’s anymore he is still the face of Ronald McDonald House Charities.

The foundation was set up in in the 1970s and the the first Ronald McDonald House was opened in Philadelphia in 1974.

The charity‘s mission is to keep families close together and provide a “home away from home” for families of seriously ill children in hospital.

Ronald McDonald houses offer a place where families can cook, sleep, be together and always be only moments away from their sick child.

Families can stay overnight at the properties or use them during the day to maintain “a degree of normal life and reducing emotional and financial strain”.

Every year the charity helps more than 6,000 families in the UK stay close to their children in the hospital.

The first UK house opened in 1989 and as of February 2024 there are 14 located across cities like Edinburgh, London and Birmingham.