Mayor McCheese: The Untold Story Behind America’s Favorite Mascot

Step back in time with us as we journey through the nostalgic and iconic world of McDonaldland, focusing on its enigmatic leader, Mayor McCheese. This cheeseburger-headed character played a significant role in McDonald’s commercials from 1970-1985, making him an unforgettable figure for many fast-food enthusiasts.

However, not everyone knows how Mayor McCheese came to be or the lasting impact he has had on pop culture and modern mascots.

Key Takeaways

Mayor McCheese was a beloved mascot from McDonaldland, the fictional world created for McDonald’s commercials between 1970 and 1985.

He gained popularity due to his quirky physical appearance, copyright infringement claims involving H.R. Pufnstuf creators Sid and Marty Krofft, and his role in McDonald’s advertising campaigns.

The legacy of Mayor McCheese lives on through his influence on modern mascots, the nostalgia he brings to those who grew up with McDonaldland, and collectibles like Funko Pops and other merchandise.

A lawsuit filed against McDonaldland by Sid and Marty Krofft led to most of the original characters being phased out in the mid-1970s including Mayor McCheese; however, he remains an iconic figure from pop culture history.

Who Is Mayor McCheese?

Mayor McCheese 2

Mayor McCheese is a captivating and iconic mascot from McDonaldland, the fictional fantasy world of McDonald’s commercials that ran between 1970 and 1985. As the name suggests, Mayor McCheese possesses an enormous cheeseburger for a head, with his humanoid body adorned in a suit and small top hat.

Voiced originally by Howard Jones before being taken over by Bob Joles in subsequent commercials, Mayor McCheese played an integral role in representing McDonald’s brand during its early years.

Although initially considered a minor character within the extensive roster of mascots inhabiting McDonaldland – including Officer Big Mac, Captain Crook, and Birdie the Early Bird, among others – he quickly rose to popularity due to his quirky physical appearance as well as copyright infringement claims involving H.R.

The Origins Of McDonaldland

Mayor McCheese and Officer BigMac
Mayor McCheese and Officer Big Mac, pictured above.

McDonaldland was a fictional world created for McDonald’s commercials, featuring characters like Mayor McCheese, Grimace, and Ronald McDonald.


In the early 1970s, McDonald’s crafted a whimsical world called McDonaldland as a backdrop for their commercials. This vibrant, colorful universe was populated with an array of quirky, memorable characters that perfectly complemented the brand’s playful appeal.

The setting often featured fantastical landscapes filled with oversized hamburgers and other mouthwatering delights.

McDonaldland functioned as a safe haven for young audiences to indulge in innocent fun while learning about their favorite Happy Meal items. Each character represented different aspects of McDonald’s menu – like Mayor McCheese with his cheeseburger head – reinforcing the brand identity throughout this wacky realm.


Mayor McCheese and other McDonalds mascots

The fascinating world of McDonaldland was populated by a colorful cast, each contributing to the wonder and adventure that captured the hearts of kids nationwide. With Mayor McCheese gracing the helm, let’s take a closer look at some of these memorable characters:

  • Ronald McDonald: The immediately recognizable red-haired clown who has been the face of McDonald’s since his inception in 1963.
  • Grimace: Originally dubbed “Evil Grimace,” this lovable purple critter began as a milkshake thief before transforming into an endearing fan favorite.
  • Hamburglar: A mischievous character known for swiping hamburgers in his iconic black-and-white striped outfit and mask.
  • Fry Kids: Introduced as “Gobblins” in 1972, these small, furry creatures are known for their love of stealing French fries.
  • Birdie the Early Bird: Serving as an ambassador for McDonald’s breakfast menu items since her debut in 1980, Birdie is often seen as both intelligent and resourceful.
  • Captain Crook: A seafaring villain with a penchant for capturing Filet-O-Fish sandwiches; often pursued by Officer Big Mac.
  • Officer Big Mac: The long arm of the law in McDonaldland, tasked with upholding the peace while keeping an eye on mischief-makers like Hamburglar and Captain Crook.

These beloved characters were more than just mascots promoting fast food—they were an integral part of a shared childhood experience that united generations with fond memories and fun adventures. As Mayor McCheese held court over this fantastical realm, it’s no wonder he remains an iconic treasure within pop culture.

The Popularity Of Mayor McCheese

Mayor McCheese sitting

Mayor McCheese was a beloved character who played a crucial role in McDonald’s advertising and left an indelible impact on pop culture.

Role In McDonald’s Advertising

Mayor McCheese played a significant role in McDonald’s advertising, as he was one of the most recognizable mascots in McDonaldland. His cheeseburger head and mayoral sash made him stand out among other fast-food mascots.

Mayor McCheese appeared in various commercials for McDonald’s, often promoting new menu items or special promotions. He was also featured on merchandise such as t-shirts and toys, helping to increase his popularity.

Mayor McCheese became so influential that he even had his own line of comic books published by Charlton Comics.

Impact On Pop Culture

Mayor McCheese, along with other beloved characters from McDonaldland, such as Grimace, Hamburglar, and the Fry Kids, became iconic figures in pop culture during their prominent run from 1970 to 1985. Their whimsical adventures and appearances in McDonald’s advertisements left a lasting impression on a generation.

The influence of McDonaldland extends beyond its initial era and can still be observed in modern media. Notably, popular animated shows like Family Guy and Robot Chicken have humorously parodied these characters, incorporating them into their storylines. Additionally, the comedic genius of Late Night with Conan O’Brien showcased Patton Oswalt embodying a character inspired by Mayor McCheese during the Triumph the Insult Comic Dog segment, hilariously situated at a New Jersey hot dog stand.

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Mayor McCheese’s enduring popularity extends beyond the realm of entertainment. Among collectors, he holds a special place, with enthusiasts seeking out various memorabilia related to McDonaldland. In recognition of this demand, Funko Pops, renowned for their collectible figures, released a line of McDonald’s mascot roster featuring Mayor McCheese and other beloved characters like Grimace, Hamburglar, and the Fry Kids. These nostalgic figures pay homage to the cherished era of McDonaldland and have become highly sought-after items for collectors and fans alike.

Just as Furbies and Tamagotchis captured the hearts of many in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the characters of McDonaldland, particularly Mayor McCheese, continue to evoke fond memories and hold a special place in the hearts of those who grew up with them. Their timeless appeal and enduring presence in popular culture are a testament to the lasting impact of these beloved icons.

The Lawsuit And Disappearance Of Mayor McCheese

The burger-headed mayor’s popularity was cut short by a lawsuit filed against McDonaldland by Sid and Marty Krofft, leading to his disappearance from future advertisements.

In the mid-1970s, the creators of H.R. Pufnstuf, Sid and Marty Krofft, filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s for copyright infringement. They claimed that McDonaldland was too similar to their own fantasy world and characters.

As part of the settlement, most of the original characters in McDonaldland were phased out, including Mayor McCheese.

The lawsuit had a significant impact on intellectual property law in advertising and helped set boundaries for using fictional worlds or characters created by others without permission.

The End Of McDonaldland

In the early 2000s, McDonald’s began to shift away from their iconic McDonaldland characters and premises in their commercials. Instead, they chose to focus on Ronald McDonald alone in real-world situations with children.

One of the reasons why this happened was due to a lawsuit filed by Sid and Marty Krofft (creators of H.R. Pufnstuf), which claimed that McDonaldland was an unauthorized ripoff of their work.

The lawsuit ultimately resulted in most original McDonaldland characters being phased out, including Mayor McCheese himself.

The Legacy Of Mayor McCheese

Mayor McCheese’s legacy lives on through his influence on modern mascots and the nostalgia he brings to those who grew up with McDonaldland, as well as through collectibles like Funko Pops and other merchandise.

Mayor McCheese from a dumpster
An ancient Mayor McCheese was found in a dumpster by a Reddit user’s father.

Influence On Modern Mascots

Mayor McCheese, along with the other McDonaldland characters, had a significant impact on modern mascots. As one of the first brand mascots to have a physical appearance rather than just a voiceover or animation, Mayor McCheese set the standard for how mascots are used in advertising and marketing today.

His distinctive cheeseburger head and charming demeanor resonate with audiences even decades after his last appearance.

Other fast-food chains have followed suit by creating their own unique brand mascots, such as Wendy’s “Dave Thomas” or Burger King’s “The King.” Additionally, commercials featuring talking animals or animated characters are still popular in advertising campaigns across different industries to this day.

Nostalgia And Collectibles

For geeks, Mayor McCheese holds a special place in their hearts. Here are some reasons why Mayor McCheese is a collectible item for enthusiasts:

  1. Nostalgia factor: For many, the character brings back memories of childhood and nostalgic moments at McDonald’s.
  2. Rareness: Since Mayor McCheese was phased out in the 80s, finding any memorabilia featuring him can be challenging and make it a prized possession among collectors.
  3. Pop-Culture Icon: Being an iconic mascot in pop-culture history, collecting items featuring this character is part of being a true geek.
  4. Funko Pops & other merchandise: The Funko Pop! figures based on McDonald’s characters include Mayor McCheese — the toy company has become a big player in creating collectibles for geeks who love many different franchises.

Mayor McCheese may have been discontinued, but his legacy remains strong in the hearts of those who loved McDonaldland commercials from their youth.

Frequently Asked Questions (About Mayor McCheese)

Who was Mayor McCheese, and why was he important to McDonald’s history?

Mayor McCheese was a fictional character created by McDonald’s in the 1970s as part of their marketing campaigns. He served as a spokesperson for the brand and became an iconic figure that helped solidify the fast-food giant’s place in American culture.

What were some of the key features or elements that made up Mayor McCheese’s character?

Mayor McCheese was known for being a friendly, approachable character with his signature top hat, suit, and cheeseburger headpiece. He often appeared alongside other characters from McDonaldland, like Ronald McDonald and Grimace.

Why do you think Mayor McCheese has endured over time despite changes in consumer preferences and advertising trends?

Mayor McCheese is still remembered fondly today because he represents an era when advertising was less aggressive and more lighthearted. His simple charm and relatable personality continue to resonate with people who grew up during that time period.

Are there any interesting facts or trivia about Mayor McCheese that most people might not know?

One lesser-known fact about Mayor McCheese is that his design evolved over time – originally, he had four arms! Additionally, he has been parodied on popular TV shows like The Simpsons, cementing his status as a pop culture icon for generations to come.


In conclusion, Mayor McCheese may no longer be the face of McDonald’s advertising campaigns, but his legacy lives on. He was a beloved and iconic character that played an important role in pop culture history.

Despite his brief appearance in the fast food giant’s media franchise, he has left an indelible mark on our childhood memories. It is exciting to see renewed interest in his character with recent merchandise releases like Funko Pop! figures.




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