Why iconic clown character Ronald McDonald vanished

He’s one of the most famous characters of all time — but a few years ago he vanished.

Ronald McDonald was first introduced to the world in 1963 as the “newest, silliest, hamburger-eating-est clown”.

With bright red hair, painted face and yellow boiler suit, the McDonald’s mascot quickly became iconic in popular culture.

There are now more than 40,000 Macca’s restaurants around the world and Ronald helped the franchise become a global powerhouse.

He later joined by other characters including Hamburglar, Grimace, Officer Big Mac, Mayor McCheese, Birdie the Early Bird and Fry Kids.

The clown was wheeled out by the restaurant to open new stores and other promotional events.

However in 2003, Macca’s decided began to phase out its mascots as it pivoted marketing from children to adults.

And things took a darker turn with the clown scare that began during Halloween in 2016, which effectively ended Donald’s career. A plague of creepy clown sightings spread hysteria across Australia and around the world.

The clown scare reportedly started off in the US city of Green Bay as a small viral campaign for the short movie Gags.

Before long, rumours about nefarious clowns spread like wildfire on social media.

The incidents were mostly pranks and perhaps inspired by the release of the horror movie It, an adaptation of horror writer Stephen King’s best-selling book.

It got so bad that McDonald’s put out the statement: “McDonald’s and franchisees in the local markets are mindful of the current climate around clown sightings in communities and as such are being thoughtful in respect to Ronald McDonald’s participation in community events for the time being.”

Public opinion towards clowns turned sour, which ultimately spelled the end for Ronald.

His name lives on however through the Ronald McDonald House Charities which supports families with sick or injured children.

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