Saturday, October 29, 2011

Would You Like A Moron With That?

Ah, McDonald's.  McRib is back and my sister isn't the only one celebrating.  McDonald's is one of those companies that gets sued a lot for all kinds of things.  The Hot Coffee Incident that everyone snickers about as litigous excess?  There was a little more to it than someone trying to make a quick buck.  Just recently McDonald's banned a customer for disruptive behavior and I'll be keeping an eye on that one.  The company is nearly as iron-fisted in protecting their own trademarks as Disney is, which is what makes this week's case so mystifying to me.  Then again, we've already established that I'm a moron. 

Sid and Marty Krofft were television producers who were responsible for shows like Sigmund and the Seamonsters, Land of the Lost, and Lidsville.  If you need an explanation for why American kids who grew up in the 70s are the way they are those three shows are as good an explanation as any.  The show that their case against McDonald's was about was the one I loved the most, H. R. Pufnstuf

The gist is that McDonald's advertising agency approached the Kroffts to license the characters from H. R. Pufnstuf but were turned down.  McDonald's went back to the drawing board and came up with characters that looked nothing at all like the Krofft prperties.  The end.  Oh, wait, no they didn't.  I don't know about you but I think there might be a teensy resemblance between Mayor H. R. Pufnstuf

Photo courtesy of

and Mayor McCheese.

Photo courtesy of The Wacky Deli

Actually, the whole of McDonaldland seemed a little too close to H. R. Pufnstuf.  The Kroffts didn't take it lying down, they sued and were initially awarded $50,000 but that was later RAISED to $1M.  How often does that happen?  Eventually McDonald's phased out all the McDonaldland characters that could be claimed to be based on Krofft characters. 

Nostalgia is a powerful thing, though, and as Foodiggity wrote about in January there's a Facebook campaign to bring back Mayor McCheese.  There are at least two posts that refer to the lawsuit and a plea that McDonald's and the Kroffts put aside their differences and work to bring the campaign back.  I don't know, do you think kids today would respond to Mayor McCheese?  In that vein, today's song is all about nostalgia.  "Against the 70s" is from Mike Watt but features Eddie Vedder and Dave Grohl and Krist Novaselic on their first post-Nirvana recording.


  1. As always, I think this is about marketing to who has the money. Kids could relate to anything, but their parents have the discretionary income. I mean, I love Elvis Costello singing with the Muppets -- but that is all about nostalgia and not about kids. Not that that's wrong. You could point out that due to my parents' cultural preferences I ended up a fan of a 500 year old musical tradition.

  2. I used to love H.R. Puffenstuff (he's your friend when things get tough!) I really watched for Jack Wild. (Very sad what happened to him) Those big puppet-like people actually freaked me out (a bit). I liked the show The Banana Splits better which used to come on just after (or before - I forget!) I used to rush home from school to watch.
    I had no idea those McDonald creatures were copied!

  3. @librachick19777...I had one the other day and thought of you!

    @Kurbiss...I've tried to get my kids into stuff from my childhood but I've only been partially successful. Like they love the Muppets but they're not crazy about Sesame Street.

    @phylly3...I loved The Banana Splits, too!


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