Ah, McDonald’s. The best/worst food that’s out there.
To this day, I still have to admit that I will stop in for a Mcgriddle from time to time.
There’s just nothing that cures a hangover quite like Mickey D’s in the morning.
Whether or not you eat there, you have to admit that they’ve changed quite a bit since the ’80s and ’90s.
It seems like there used to be a lot more flair and creativity.
Unfortunately, most of that was probably to encourage young kids to want to eat there so the franchise could hook them as McDonald’s customers for life.
Either way, check out these old-school photos of what McDonald’s used to be and enjoy your stroll down memory lane.
1. Food chairs.
Nothing says McDonald’s in the ’90s like sitting on a burger while you knock back some fries. You can see that some chairs are regular and meant for the adults to sit at. This was one of many of McDonald’s ploys to get kids excited about eating here.
2. Super Mario happy meals.
The Mario game even looks pixelated on the cardboard box. This is a great example of how far McDonald’s (and videogames) have come since the ’80s. Nothing like using an old Nintendo controller with greasy fry-fingers.
3. You were a part of the crew
Whoever painted this mural wisely added some normal human kids in there with the McDonald’s crew. It made you feel like you were welcomed and a part of the gang. I’d be much more inclined to buy a burger from my friends than from complete strangers.
4. Mickey Mouse cups.
McDonald’s was smart to partner with some of the big-name entertainment companies for kids. If you were a fan of Mickey Mouse and saw that Ronald Mcdonald was too, then you would surely ask mom for a happy meal for dinner.
5. Playtime and mealtime.
As a parent, the two most time-consuming tasks are feeding and entertaining your kid. So why not take them to a place that allows you to do both at the same time? Well played, ’80s McDonalds, you got that one right.
6. McDonald’s play toys.
Once again we see Mickey D’s teaming up with an entertainment juggernaut: Fisher-Price. Kids in the ’80s and ’90s never got those golden arches out of their minds. It was always time for McDonald’s.
7. Dinosaur hand-puppets.
Remember these? You had to keep going back to try and get all the different types of dinos. But somehow, you always seemed to get the same one as last time.
8. Ronald at Walmart.
It seems like the guys at McDonald’s tried to put old Ronald anywhere they could back then. It makes sense though. You can’t help but crave a Big Mac when you see that freaky clown.
9. Spooky gift certificates.
I remember getting one of these in my candy bag one year while I was trick-or-treating. I was bummed at first, thinking it was just a piece of paper. But when I opened it up, my smile returned.
10. Transformer toys.
It seems like the toys have gotten worse since the ’80s. They really used to put in effort in order to give you something you’d enjoy. I’m not sure what comes in the happy meals today, but I can guarantee they aren’t as cool as these transformers.
11. Disney movie characters.
As a kid, I was hooked on Disney movies. So when I found out that they were giving the action figures away in happy meals, I had to get one. McDonald’s sure had their child-marketing on point back then.
12. Birthdays with Ronald.
Nothing says 1989 like a birthday party at McDonald’s. They had the playpen, the ice cream, and even the entertainers. Something tells me a McDonald’s birthday nowadays wouldn’t be quite as fun.
13. Mickey D ashtrays.
Remember the good old days when you could eat non-nutritious food and smoke cigarettes at the same time? Things sure have changed since the ’80s. I doubt McDonald’s wants to be known for supporting smoking these days.
14. Hercules plates.
Hercules aired in 1997 and McDonald’s was all over it. They jumped on the Disney hype and made collectible plates for you to get at the store. I like the Zeus plate the best.
15. Bugs Bunny racecars.
McDonald’s was good about offering toys with multiple options. That way, you couldn’t just get one happy meal and be satisfied. You had to keep buying meals until you had all the characters.
16. Ronald hand-puppet.
Back in the ’80s and ’90s there weren’t all of these high-tech toys that kids have now. You used to have to use you imagination a lot more. This hand-puppet was able to provide entertainment for hours on end.
17. Prison burger.
The irony here is that back then, eating McDonald’s as often as people did was a sort of prison sentence. There wasn’t the same nutritional information available back then as there is now. So we ate the burgers willingly, without realizing the harm that we were causing our bodies.
18. The big twist cone.
I have to admit, this one was hard to say no to. It was incredibly cheap, very delicious, and always hit the spot. I can remember a few hot days at the drive-thru with my family in the ’90s.
19. McSalad shakers.
I believe this was McDonald’s first attempt at putting something healthy on the menu. Unfortunately when you added up all the calories from the dressing and the toppings, it really wasn’t healthy at all. Good try Ronald.
20. Teenie Beanie Babies.
I remember this one hooking my sisters. They collected the regular size Beanie Babies but when they heard that McDonald’s had some tiny ones, they begged our parent for a happy meal. I think my parents still have that little flamingo laying somewhere around their house.
21. Dollar Big Macs.
Something that surprised me the last time I stopped at a McDonalds was how expensive the food is. I remember these prices here. I think now it’s almost $10 for a Big Mac meal.
22. The golden arch water dispenser.
McDonald’s found a way to put their name on the most essential thing that we put into our bodies–water. It seems like back then, you couldn’t go anywhere or eat/drink anything without thinking of or seeing those golden arches somewhere.
23. Spooky nuggets.
These monster nuggets were iconic back in the ’80s and ’90s around Halloween time. They got us kids ready for our favorite holiday while reminding us where we could get our favorite meal. There was always a hidden agenda with these toys.
24. Batman cups.
One of the biggest movies in the ’90s was Batman. We loved watching as kids and somehow McDonalds knew that. Once they offered Batman cups, we couldn’t help but ask our parents to take us on a trip to the drive-thru.
25. Placemat games.
As a parent, getting your kids to sit still when you are out to eat is exhausting. But not with these nifty placemat game cards. When parents needed to get their kids fed but didn’t want to deal with the fussing, they knew where to take them.
26. Play Tower
I remember spending way too much time on these. It was the perfect way to burn off all the calories a had just eaten. And the perfect way to get me to want to come back.
27. Styrofoam packaging.
You don’t really see styrofoam packaging anymore. Which is a good thing I supposed. We’ve come a long way since the ’80s in terms of recycling and single-use packing, but we still have a long way to go.
28. Garfield cups.
I think this really hits the nostalgia nail on the head for some of you older viewers. I was too young to appreciate Garfield but I bet he was a very important part of many of your Sunday mornings when you were a kid.
29. Party time!
In the ’80s and ’90s, McDonalds put a lot of effort into being the place to be for kids and their friends. No matter the event whether birthday, last day of school, or just winning your soccer teams championship game, Mickey D’s always put a smile on kid’s faces.
30. Sitting with Ronald.
By building a bench with a lifesize Ronald McDonald statue on it, McDonald’s was able to make you feel like you were a part of the family. You could get yourself a burger and then sit down and enjoy it with the guy who presumable helped make it. This inclusive atmosphere was one of the main factors in Mickey D’s success in the ’90s.
31. McDonald’s cookies.
Since the girlscouts were having so much success with their sales, McDonald’s figured that they’d hop on the band wagon. There’s nothing like finishing up and unhealthy meal with an unhealthy dessert. It really rounds out the entire experience.
32. Halloween happy meal.
There was nothing better then getting to celebrate Halloween more than once. And when I got my happy meal in one of these spooky containers, it felt like Halloween came early. I even got the save it and use it as a candy basket.
33. More transformers.
Once again, I think that these transformer toys from the ’80s were the coolest toys that ever came in a happy meal. They were something you could take home and play with again and again. And no doubt you wanted to try and get every single one if you could.
34. Baby chairs.
No child was too young for McDonald’s to market to. The sooner they could get you hooked on their food the better. This highchair from the ’90s says it all.
35. Always the same floor.
No matter what city or state you were in, showing up a McDonald’s always felt like home. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that they built every single one of them the same way, even down to the floor tiles. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re still using this same floor setup today.
36. Coffee spoon anyone?
In the ’80s and ’90s, McDonalds really didn’t spare any expense. Every single item you used in that store had their logo on it. It’s a good way to get their brand stuck in your head.
37. Hamburger chairs.
These chairs really take me back. I remember spinning in circles on them while I ate one chicken nugget at a time. This might be one that McDonald’s should bring back.
38. Every McDonald’s used to have a play area.
This is something that you don’t see as much anymore. But back in the ’80s and ’90s, it was hard to find a Mickey D’s that didn’t sport a jungle gym play area out front. It’s probably for the best.
39. Apple pie for dessert.
Ok, I’ve got to admit, these things were good. I mean really good. If McDonald’s still had their apple pies on the menu I’d be stopping by much more often.
40. Ron’s gang.
Ronald Mcdonald used to roll with a pretty tight crew. Over the years though, it seems like members of his gang kind of just disappeared. And now, in 2020, I’m pretty sure it’s just lonely old Ronald left.
41. The classic breakfast.
The one thing that Mickey D’s always got right was their breakfast. Even today, their breakfast meals hold up. It’s not uncommon to catch me at the drive thru around 10;30 on a Sunday morning.