The trial of Ronald McDonald

March 31 A coalition of health care professionals, parents and corporate accountability advocates are calling for the retirement of fast-food icon, Ronald McDonald. The coalition, Corporate Accountability International, plans to hold ‘retirement parties’ for good ol’ Ronald at various McDonald’s restaurants and college campuses. They believe the clownish icon is a huge cause of our nation’s obesity problems. And, I agree. I think retiring Ronald is a cool idea. But, it doesn’t go far enough.

In my mind, Ronald McDonald is a cartoon criminal, responsible for causing much of America’s obesity problem (I’m sure there’s a direct correlation between the growth of the McDonald’s chain since the 1950s and America’s expanding waistline). In fact, I think Ronald McDonald should go on trial for his crimes against humanity.

I believe a smart district attorney could put together a fool-proof case for the jury’s consideration. And, here’s how I envision the cross examination:

D.A.: “Mr. McDonald, your corporation is serving billions of Big Macs daily. How many calories a day do you think that adds up to? Trillions? Zillions?”

McDonald: “Duh-huh. I don’t make the hamburgers, Mr. District Attorney. I just bring happiness to people’s lives.”

D.A.: “Nice. How many morbidly obese people do you think are happy, Mr. McDonald?”

McDonald: “Duh-huh. I see lots of happy, rolly polly people every day, Mr. District Attorney.”

D.A.: “I’ll bet you do. Your honor, if it pleases the court, I’d like to enter into evidence this MRI photograph of severe arterial blockage. It was taken of a lifelong devotee of McDonald’s hamburgers who recently died of a massive heart attack. Mr. McDonald: how does that make you feel?”

McDonald: “Duh-huh. Hungry, Mr. District Attorney. Hungry. That picture looks like one of my super-sized Macs. Kids just love ‘em to death.”

D.A.: “You mean they love them until they’re killed by them, is that what you’re saying Mr. McDonald?”

McDonald: “Duh-huh. I’m just the Chief Happiness Officer of McDonald’s, Mr. District Attorney. You’d have to ask someone else about death. That’s a real downer.”

D.A.: “No further questions, your honor.”

Judge: “You’re free to step down, Mr. McDonald.”

McDonald: “Duh-huh. Thanks your honor. That was fun.”

Judge: “You may not think so when the jury returns a guilty verdict, Mr. McDonald.”

19 thoughts on “The trial of Ronald McDonald

  1. PR Week interviewed me this morning about the Ronald McDonald retirement parties. I prefaced my remarks by praising all of the cutting-edge cause-related programs McDonald’s has pioneered over the years. The Ronald McDonald House is a great example. I think what we’re overlooking, though, is the 30 million plus members of America’s permanent underclass. These are people stuck below the poverty line who have neither the education nor the financial wherewithal to embrace a healthy lifestyle. Just finding food is a daily battle for the underclass. So, when they see a jolly clown encouraging them to enjoy a $3 dinner replete with thousands upon thousands of calories, they willingly accept. Why? Because they have few, if any, alternatives. And, Kim, you, me, and everyone else on this posting chain will never know what the starkness of that life must be like. That’s what makes Ronald so dangerous.

  2. So, I guess we will be removing the clown from the Ronald McDonald houses as well where kids and their parents stay when they are sick and getting treatment for cancer and other illnesses. Come on people, when are we going to start taking responsibility for our own actions and stop blaming everyone else. No one forced those burgers into our kids hands. No one forced the parents to swing into a drive through because they were TOO BUSY to cook a decent meal for their family. THE CLOWN DIDN’T DO IT.

  3. Classic chicken or egg question, Randy. Which came first? If nothing else, an interventionist would call Ronald an enabler.

  4. I like your idea of the citizens action group suggesting some alternatives instead of just crucifying the clown. Re: Kool-Aid, their icon made my list of the five least fit corporate icons. It’s the subject of today’s blog.

  5. Actually, Randy, if Benjamin Franklin had had his way, the Bald Eagle never would have been picked as our national symbol. Ol’ Ben wanted the turkey instead. But, back to the issue at hand. If I were running McDonald’s marketing programs, I’d turn Ronald into a proselytizing clown who visited classrooms around the country educating kids on the importance of a healthy diet. Hopefully, he’d leave the Big Mac and fries out of his presentation.

  6. My ire certainly isn’t with your blogicle but with the pure idiocy of the idea. I’m on a roll now. Here’s a thought: Why doesn’t the group take the money they will spend on this venture and feed some low income and homeless people a healthy meal? Or start a healthy eating and exercise campaign? Next to go will be Tucan Sam, Kool-Aid and soon after we might as well target every corporate logo and trademark.
    I agree with you, that Mickey D’s doesn’t care one way or the other. They shouldn’t have to. Just like the kind of car you buy or the brand of clothing you wear, if you don’t like it… don’t buy it. Know where your kids are and what they are doing America. Do we really need someone else to do our thinking for us?

  7. RepMan, I’m getting confused, is it the clown or the less fortunate that is causing the eating problems.

  8. This is what people do that do not have a life. How can you say the clown did it? Is he forcing the kids to eat the food? Where are the parents who are responsible for their kids actions to a certain age to control what they eat. This group should concentrate on educating people instead of attacking a clown. Why you are at it lets get rid of the US Bald Eagle as he could promote predatory actions.

  9. I laughed out loud at that one. Well done, Nardy. Obviously, some of my comments are tongue-in-cheek. Parents should be accountable. But, many aren’t. And, McDonald’s sure doesn’t care one way or the other. They’re perfectly positioned as the low-cost food alternative in the midst of the Great Recession. Re: consumer activists. Get used to it. It’s the new normal.

  10. Glad to hear it, Laura. I do hope your counterparts in the inner city, who perhaps have fewer economic advantages and perhaps less education, are enjoying the same sort of healthy lifestyle. Sadly, the statistics prove otherwise.

  11. This is so ridiculous. You feed your child whatever you want, no one is forcing you. I can certainly tell you that I have been a McDonald’s fan for many years and my kids, now young adults, ate McD’s all the time. At my age, 52, I’m healthy, no cholesterol, high blood or any of that and my kids are fit and healthy as well.

  12. Jackie Kolek wrote a most excellent blog about Jaime Oliver on one of the our other Peppercom blogs (Link below). I don’t disagree that WVU is formidable. Speaking of Duke, there was an incredible PBS documentary last night about Bob Hurley, Sr., and his work at St. Anthony’s High School in Jersey City. You should try to catch it if you can. Hurley Sr’s commitment to the school, the disadvantaged kids and the neighborhood puts the rest of the big-time coaches to shame, including your boy at WVU.
    Link –

  13. I agree that parents should take responsibility for their kids, Laura. But, suppose they don’t? And, what about all the kids who are growing up nowadays without parents? This is a two-way street and McDonald’s needs to be held accountable for Ronald McDonald in the same way Camel was for Joe Camel. Just because those icons didn’t influence you to smoke or inhale Big Macs doesn’t mean they didn’t influence thousands, if not millions, of others.

  14. Sad. Just when does personal accountability come into play? The idea that this could succeed scares the bejesus out of me. Pretty soon we will all line up for government/lobbyist approved “pill meals”. They will provide 100% of whatever it is that someone else decides is good for us (that day). Failure to ingest will be followed by arrest and public humiliation.

  15. First, Joe Camel never made me want to smoke. Next, Ronald McDonald never made me eat McDonald’s food. But, if he did make me want to eat it, my parents put a fast stop to that. And, this was 40 years ago too! It is entirely up to the parents to control what junior eats/smokes or doesn’t eat/smoke while junior is still living under the parental domain. It seems that our world is being controlled more by stupidity than by responsibility these days.

  16. I guess we’ll have to disagree here, Rep. To Kill Ronald would be like taking the only creative thing to out of McD’s.
    Have you tuned in to “Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution?” You’d like the uphill battle he is taking to the streets of a WV town known for its gluttonous ways. He’s changing the menu at schools, in homes and anywhere else he can get people to listen.
    Being that he is a Brit, I would like to hear what Peppercom UK thinks of his efforts and the reactions he has had so far in WV. (BTW, They will destroy Duke on Saturday night. Care to place a wager?).

  17. Sorry I’m late to respond, Lunch. The issue with Ronald is that kids adore him and he’s a natural attraction to get them hooked on the unhealthy fare his company produces. As you know, too many parents are too busy working multiple jobs to pay the bills and aren’t spending the time necessary to properly raise their kids. As a result, the kids fall prey to Ronald’s sales pitch. I say lock the clown up and throw away the keys.

  18. I agree with LB, but there are ways to promote healthy eating with getting rid of the mascot.
    They got rid of Joe Camel, so what’s stopping them from getting rid of good ol’ Ronnie? Instead of ditching Ronald completely, why not have him teach the kids about healthy eating, similar to the way cigarette companies have to educate on the risks of smoking.
    Friend of LB

  19. A royale (with cheese) waste (or waist) of time. [Sorry for the inside movie joke and homophone play, Rep.]
    But this is stupid. I would hope that a coalition of health care professionals, parents and corporate accountability advocates could find a better way to instruct parents and youths about eating correctly. Fast food kills, yes. But, we CHOOSE to eat the fast food…the clown doesn’t FORCE us.
    What’s next? An all out assault against Mister Softee, Colonel Sanders, The King, Peter Pan, Charlie Tuna, Twinkie the Kid, Chiquita Banana’s Miss Chiquita, etc? Without any of these friendly mascots left, I’d feel like I was living in society that is embracing socialism or even communism! (Thinking to self: wait a sec…are we headed that way now?)
    We can’t blame advertising mascots for failed parenthood and bad choices when it comes to whether or not we’re growing up in a nutritious environment. Too much of anything is bad for us. If parents can’t teach their kids that much, they are unfit parents and shouldn’t have kids.
    Best lunching,