McDonald’s introduced its newest mascot this week and the reception hasn’t been great.
Happy is a Happy Meal box with a big toothy smile and eyes bulging out of the top of his box head.
Mashable reports that the character was originally introduced in France in 2009, and is supposed to bring “fun and excitement” to kids’ meals and be an ambassador for balanced and wholesome eating.
— McDonald's (@McDonalds) May 19, 2014
Mashable calls the little dude “terrifying,” as do Yahoo! and the Huffington Post. Twitter users, meanwhile, have joined the dissent parade, calling him scary and creepy. One asked, “Do you eat it, or does it eat you?” While another quipped, “I didn’t want to sleep tonight anyways, it’s cool.”
I don’t actually think Happy is that creepy. There have definitely been creepier corporate mascots.
Here are five of them:
Lemonheads’ Lemonhead: Also revealed this week, by Ferrera Candy Co., Lemonhead is a child with a lemon for a head. Apparently, he’s “meant to attract a younger audience.” I would argue that he is far scarier than Happy, and is a little reminiscent of the Roarke Junior character from Sin City, as well as of the creatures from The Island of Doctor Moreau, but with citrus fruit.
The original Ronald McDonald: I believe the word for this clown, portrayed by Willard Scott, a.k.a. Bozo, with a paper cup for a nose is “unsettling.” It’s hard to pin down exactly what is so off about him but even those who aren’t afraid of clowns wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley. There are those who say the current Ronald is also creepy but I’m fine with him.
The Burger King (2003-2011): This iteration of The King is so ooky he was dubbed the “Creepy King” by the media. He is wearing a plastic, motionless mask of a smile. Only people who are about to do bad things, like rob banks or kidnap you, wear that kind of mask. Inexplicably, he lasted eight whole years before being put to rest. Josh Kobza, Burger King’s chief financial officer, said “We got rid of the creepy king character that tended to scare away women and children.” Took you long enough.
The Kinder Surprise Egghead: The stuff nightmares are made of. I never heard of this guy until I started searching for creepy mascots online today. Apparently, the Kinder Surprise Egghead was so scary to U.K. children that his TV commercials were pulled off the air. You can still see them on YouTube, of course.
Quizno’s Spongmonkeys: Created by Joel Vietch, these guys crossed over to TV fame in Quiznos ads. “They appear to be a pair of graphically edited tarsiers with human mouths.” The Modern Humorist said that “they are what you see before you die.” Whatever they are, they’re weird.