11 things from the 80s & 90s that you won’t see at any McDonald’s any more
jeanniejeanniejeannie.co.uk BLOG Saturday Monday 6th June 2022
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
11 things from the 1980s and 1990s that you won’t see anymore at any London McDonald’s
McDonald’s is one of the most popular fast food restaurants in the UK, and in London you’re never too far away from a branch. As of 2017 McDonald’s had 181 restaurants across Greater London, the most of any of its UK regions.
The first McDonald’s in London – and in fact the UK – was set-up in Woolwich in 1974, chosen because they supposedly wanted to find the most “average” part of London for the store.
In the nearly half a century since the first UK restaurant opened, it’s clear to see the company has had many changes. Things such as the McDonald’s branding, décor of the restaurants and even the items on the menu have changed, the Liverpool Echo reports.
Who can remember The Hamburglar, the McDonald’s Playground or even a time when they sold pizza? So to celebrate the city’s love of McDonald’s, here’s a list of things you no longer see at McDonald’s from back in the day. But how many of these things do you actually remember?
- McDonald’s Pizza
Believe it or not, McDonald’s did sell pizzas for a limited period in some restaurants in the mid-1990s as part of a sales and product test. As part of the test the restaurant trialled three flavours – Cheese, Cheese & Pepperoni and the Deluxe (cheese, green pepper, onion, peperoni and more).
Each pizza was eight inches across and cut into four slices. But if you’re salivating at the thought of getting your hands on a McDonald’s pizza you’re in for a disappointment. On their website McDonald’s have said they have no plans to reintroduce pizza to their menu at this time.
- Polystyrene burger boxes
Picture shows a McDonald’s Big Mac on it’s polystyrene take away box and Fries in a small bag. Picture taken 28th June 1994© MirrorPix Picture shows a McDonald’s Big Mac on it’s polystyrene take away box and Fries in a small bag. Picture taken 28th June 1994
Now seeing this packaging is a blast from the past. These clamshell beauties were good for sauce lovers but were also an environmentalist’s worst nightmare.
In 1990, McDonald’s agreed to stop using foam for their burger packaging. However, they continued to use it for other items, such as cups, for years to come. It wasn’t until 2018 that they made the promise to eliminate it from their global markets.
- McDonald’s Playgrounds
A playground outside McDonald’s© (Image: Universal Images Group via Getty Images) A playground outside McDonald’s
Some lucky venues weren’t just a McDonald’s restaurant, they also had playgrounds outside. Some people even claim to remember there being a McDonald’s ball-pit.
The reason you don’t see them these days is apparently because McDonald’s franchises favour more seating. However, McDonald’s has built playgrounds in the grounds of various Ronald McDonald Houses in the UK, made from recycled materials, for families to enjoy while taking care of their seriously ill children.
- Ronald McDonald and Friends
Ronald McDonald is the chain’s clown mascot who inhabits the fictional world of McDonaldland. Once a staple on British TV adverts in the ’80s and ’90s, these days you rarely see the clown with his friends Mayor McCheese, the Hamburglar, Grimace, Birdie the Early Bird and The Fry Kids.
Today you’re more likely to see an appearance by Ronald McDonald at a special event or entertaining children at Ronald McDonald House. However, in 2011, a group of 500 doctors and other health professionals took out newspaper ads saying a fast food clown mascot that targets children was unethical and should be retired.
- Ronald McDonald benches
Some branches in the UK were said to have benches outside where you could sit next to the statue of Ronald McDonald with his arm around you. Personally, in this Instagram age, I think it’s something that needs to be brought back.
- When McDonald’s restaurants were red, yellow and white
Red yellow and white sign outside a branch of UK McDonald’s in 1993© (Image: Mirrorpix) Red yellow and white sign outside a branch of UK McDonald’s in 1993
There was a time in the 1980s and 1990s when the dominant colours adorning the outside of the restaurant were red, yellow, and white. These days, however, in Europe it’s more usual to see the more muted green and yellow branding outside the restaurants, supposedly to reflect the company’s commitment to the environment.
One thing that hasn’t changed though are the golden arches – which are the instantly recognisable symbol of the brand.
- Having a birthday party in the children’s area
Not really something you see these days, but back in the 1980s and 1990s, the décor in parts of McDonald’s restaurants seemed to be geared more towards children. But if you were the kid who was inviting your friends to your birthday at a McDonald’s then you’d be sure to be talk of the school.
- Classic McDonald’s menu
Classic 1980s McDonald’s UK menu© (Image: Handout) Classic 1980s McDonald’s UK menu
Although many of the items on this classic McDonald’s menu are still staples of the menu today, there’s no getting away from those prices. I mean, 89p for a Big Mac, and another 12p off if you eat it outside.
It’s also worth noting that McDonald’s breakfast items were not introduced to the UK until 1982 and you could order your eggs scrambled.
- 1990s Happy Meals
Although Happy Meals had been introduced to the US restaurants in 1979, it took them until 1986 to appear in the UK. Aimed at children, now many of the Happy Meal packaging and toys from the ’80s and ’90s have become much sought-after collectors items.
- Classic McDonald’s uniforms
Unlike the modern polo shirt and baseball caps sported by today’s McDonald’s employees, uniforms back in the 1980s featured striped shirts and ties or neck bows. Go back to the early ’80s and many McDonald’s staff wore small sharply cornered hats, reminiscent of what you see in a classic American diner.
- McDonald’s ashtrays
Aluminium McDonald’s ashtray
Until the indoor smoking ban for pubs, shops and restaurants came into force in the UK in 2006, you would likely see one of these ashtrays at every table in your local McDonald’s. Some were made of aluminium while others were made of glass.
Lee Grimsditch & Martin Elvery
TOP TEN OF THE DAY
Top 10 things you would expect to see more of based on childhood comics
I borrowed this idea from John Self, who started off with lost property offices, “Keep Off the Grass” signs and magicians in tuxedos. Could have been a Top 100, but these are my favourites.
- People shaking their fists. Or saying, “Bah!”
- Quicksand. Usually marked with warning signs.
- Magnifying glasses. Essential for any amateur child sleuth or budding pyromaniac.
- Single palm tree on an improbably small island.
- Pile of mashed potato with sausages sticking out of it. (Most popular single nomination.)
- Washing someone’s mouth out with soap and water.
- Visible skeleton when someone has an electric shock. Eve Wiseman said her daughter was boggled to learn that this doesn’t happen.
- Vacuum cleaner with a suck/blow switch.
- Cucumber slices on eyes as a beauty treatment. Or a ribeye steak to cure a black eye.
Along with people slipping (and somersaulting) on banana skins or stepping on rakes, dogs running away with strings of sausages or cats leaving whole fish skeletons, people being chased by a swarm of bees, pies left on window sills to cool, and catapults, most of these still feature in the Beano to this day.
A lot of nominations for casual anti-German or anti-Scottish racism, but I kept it light.
REMEMBER: The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.
– Nicolas Chamfort
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE FOR THE DAY
Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.
Happiness is…eating a cow pie that Desperate Dan eats.
GRANDAD’S ONE LINER JOKE OF THE DAY
How do you define a farmer? Someone who is good in their field.
Love is…something different.
PEARLS OF WISDOM
“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” —Berthold Auerbach
A time for Pile of mashed potato with sausages sticking out of it…A time for Dennis’ Dad’s only name is Denis’ Dad.
©2022 Phil M Robinson