Ronald McDonald's friends include Hamburglar, Grimace, Mayor McCheese, Birdie the Early Bird, Captain Crook, the Professor, Officer Big Mac and the Fry Kids. They are said to live in an imaginary place called McDonaldland.
McDonald's began as a barbecue restaurant in 1940. The McDonaldland concept began in the early 1970s to boost interest in the fast food franchise. Featured in television advertisements for decades, the fictional community centered around Ronald McDonald and his group of friends.
Lesser known characters were often introduced to promote new items. For example, the Griddler was featured in 2002 commercials promoting the chain’s McGriddle breakfast sandwich.