There are so many hilarious, quirky, and loveable fast food mascots out there. We even made a list celebrating the best of the best. But, unfortunately, not every fast food mascot can be Ronald McDonald (funnily enough, even Ronald McDonald had trouble becoming Ronald McDonald, but more on that later). So, while there are many fast food mascots that we love, there are just as many (or realistically, more) that we, well, to put it bluntly, just can’t stand. When it comes to creating a good mascot, you have to take some risks; playing it safe is boring. The thing is, those risks don’t always pay off. And, even if it seems like it paid off, as you’ll see later, there are always unpredictable things that can go horribly wrong. If you’re ready to be thoroughly disturbed, we’re going to be counting down the ten worst fast food mascots of all time.
10. Spongmonkeys – Quiznos
With so many terrible fast food mascots to choose from, there’s no time to mess around. For that reason, we’re jumping straight into the good stuff with number 10, a mascot so bad we can’t help but love him. Fast food mascots are supposed to sell the brand, encouraging old customers to return and new customers to give it a try. Unfortunately, this Quiznos mascot does the polar opposite. If you don’t know who we’re referring to by this point, consider yourself lucky. With its googly eyes and it’s too-human teeth, this creature, whatever it was supposed to be, gave us nightmares for the better part of the early 2000s. According to Quiznos, this fictional creature belongs to the species spongmonkey. Quiznos didn’t even like their own mascot enough to give him an actual name, and so he was, for all intents and purposes, referred to simply as Spongmoneky. In Quiznos commercials, this misshapen gerbil appeared to us in a bowler hat (because Quiznos is a classy establishment) and aggressively announced that “we love the subs, coz they are good to us!” We appreciate the endorsement but, we can safely say, the next time we eat at Quiznos, it won’t be because of this thing of nightmares.
9. Oven Mitt – Arby’s
This Arby’s mascot looks like something out of a bad Pixar movie. Known as Oven Mitt (whether it’s first name Oven, last name Mitt remains a mystery, but he always goes by both), this mascot looks pretty much exactly how you’d expect. He’s a white oven mitt with eyes, a mouth, and a surprisingly thick and shapely set of eyebrows (he’s definitely seeing an esthetician). The first commercials he appeared in were part of an ad campaign that was intended to give customers an exclusive sneak peek of what goes on behind the scenes at Arby’s. For those of you who have been plagued by that question, Arby’s worst-kept secret is that they roast their beef instead of frying or grilling it, which helps it stay juicy. Oven Mitt acted as our eyes on the inside, showing us what goes on in an Arby’s kitchen. Sometimes, he’d act as moral support, but, more often than not, Oven Mitt was right in the thick of things, being used to protect the hands of the human employees as they pulled the roast beef from the oven. It wasn’t long before Oven Mitt was retired from his role as mascot. This probably had something to do with how tacky the commercials were.
8. Sausage Mascot – Denny’s
Denny’s is an American breakfast food staple. The fast food chain has done a lot right, but one area where they didn’t quite hit the mark is with their mascots. A few years ago, Denny’s came out with a series of new mascots, each of them an anthropomorphic breakfast food. There was a pancake, a slice of bacon, a fried egg, and a sausage. The first three, we have no real problems with. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same thing about the sausage. Some have criticized the sausage for his unfortunate resemblance to South Park character, Mr. Hankey. Others were more direct, comparing him to a… human waste sample, to put it delicately. Not really something you want to be representing your restaurant. In response to the mockery (because there was a lot of it), Denny’s tweeted a picture of the sausage mascot looking dejected, being comforted by the bacon mascot. The picture was captioned: “I’m just a sausage, I can’t help the way I look.” Unfortunately for him, no amount of sympathy will make him look any less like…. well, you know. Regardless of the backlash, Denny’s stood by the design of the sausage mascot, claiming that it looked just like the real thing, which makes us wonder what kind of sausages Denny’s is serving.
7. Chuck E. Cheese – Chuck E. Cheese’s
How is it that, as children, we never questioned the decision to make a rat the face of a fast food chain? Well, here’s the tea. The famous rat sporting a baseball cap and purple T-shirt wasn’t actually supposed to be the mascot for this restaurant. In fact, Chuck E. Cheese was never supposed to be Chuck E. Cheese. In a confusing turn of events, a rat costume was mistaken for a coyote, and purchased with the intention of being used for the mascot of a new pizzeria, which was to be named Coyote Pizza. It was only after the costume had been paid for and delivered that the truth came out. This may have been because the original Chuck E. Cheese mascot was so creepy that whoever bought it couldn’t manage to look directly at it. Over the years, Chuck E. Cheese went from creepy to cutesy, and kids everywhere rallied to have their birthday parties at the restaurant he endorsed. But, if you want our opinion, the restaurant health inspectors should have kicked this rat out of the kitchen years ago. If all this wasn’t enough, the animatronic version of the Chuck E. Cheese will be straight out of some people’s nightmares, something about a robotic rat with those creepy eyes, enough to make any kid with a fear for that sort of thing just run home from the birthday party.
6. Grimace – McDonald’s
Ronald McDonald might be the best-known McDonald’s mascot, but he’s by no means the only one. The fast food giant’s less popular mascot was Grimace, a fuzzy purple creature shaped like a gumdrop. The enduring question of “what exactly is Grimace” is one for the ages. All we know is that his character has absolutely nothing to do with McDonald’s or even fast food in general. He looked like a D-tier Muppet Show character. The current iteration is meant to be adorable and loveable, but the original concept for the character was creepy and menacing. This version of the character’s MO was milkshake robbery, and he was referred to as Evil Grimace. Evil Grimace is mildly more interesting that regular Grimace, but points are lost for the lazy naming. This version of the character was scrapped because he frightened children, which isn’t exactly what you’re going for when trying to promote a family-friendly establishment. It’s probably a good thing they changed the character, because another McDonald’s mascot, the Hamburglar is known for stealing hamburgers, and there isn’t enough room in the restaurant for two criminal masterminds.
5. Chihuahua – Taco Bell
Not only did this mascot fail to increase sales for Taco Bell, it actually ended up losing them money in an embarrassing lawsuit. If that doesn’t earn this mascot a place on the list of the worst of all time, we don’t know what will. That being said, we feel a bit guilty about including Gidget, or as she’s usually known, the Taco Bell Chihuahua, on this list, because all dogs are good dogs, and it’s not her fault she got roped into this failed ad campaign. In commercials, the Taco Bell Chihuahua was dubbed as saying “¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!”, which translates to “I want Taco Bell!”. This catchphrase actually made its way into the mainstream, but the commercials didn’t do the fast food chain any good. After a huge decline in sales, the company’s president was replaced, and the ads were pulled. A few years later, Taco Bell was sued by two men from Michigan who claimed that they’d pitched the idea of a Chihuahua mascot six years before the Taco Bell Chihuahua made her first appearance and that they hadn’t received the appropriate compensation for their contributions. This was, well, actually proven true after an investigation and eventual court proceedings. In the end, the judge ruled in their favor, and Taco Bell had to dish out over forty million dollars. It’s probably safe to say that Taco Bell has some regrets when it comes to this Chihuahua, though some people love it and claim it put Taco Bell on the map so not a total flop.
4. The Noid – Domino’s
In the eighties, Domino’s came out with a new mascot called The Noid. The character gets points for creativity and is very unique to say the least. However, unfortunately, he was the cause of a terrible event. The Noid was designed to look like a comic book character and wore a skin-tight red suit with the letter “N” emblazoned on his chest. For whatever reason, the hood part of the costume had rabbit ears attached to it. The Noid embodied all the challenges that could prevent a Domino’s pizza from fulfilling its promise of being delivered in thirty minutes or less. Of course, he was never successful, and customers always received their pizza in the expected timeframe. While Domino’s denies that this was the reason behind their decision to retire The Noid, in the late eighties, a man named Kenneth Lamar Noid entered a Domino’s armed with a gun and held two employees, hostage, for several hours. He believed that Domino’s had used his name as inspiration for The Noid, and that the character was designed as a personal attack targeted towards him. He forced the employees to call Dominos headquarters, demanding ransom money and a white limousine as a getaway vehicle. He also demanded that they make custom pizzas for him. Luckily, Noid eventually surrendered to the police and no one was harmed, but this awful event caused the mascot to lose some of his charms.
3. Cows – Chick-fil-A
Pretty much everyone knows that the Chick-fil-A logo is a chicken. It makes sense since it’s a restaurant that specializes in chicken sandwiches. Plus, the word “chick” is right there in the name. And yet, the executive decision was made to make the mascot… a cow. This ad campaign, which featured cows encouraging people to “Eat more chicken” is pretty goofy. After all, besides chicken, the main fast food ingredient is beef. So, the logic is that of course cows would want consumers to choose chicken instead. This does seem like a good business strategy, maybe not one to use as a marketing scheme though. That said we see what they were going for here. The joke is funny – the first time. That’s the main issue with this campaign: it all revolves around a single joke. It would be fair to say that Chick-fil-A went a little bit overboard with it. There are billboards, calendars, and even a chatline. It’s been over twenty years now, and no one’s really laughing anymore. It would be nice to see them flex their creative muscles and come up with something fresh, instead of relying on the same old thing time and time again.
2. Original Ronald McDonald – McDonald’s
We get that technology wasn’t what it is now back in the mid-twentieth century, but how is it that all fast food mascots from that era are absolutely terrifying? Why was it so hard to create a character that doesn’t make you want to turn and run in the opposite direction? As much as we love Ronald McDonald, we have to admit that the mascot’s original iteration wasn’t kid-friendly. The McDonald’s’ clown mascot was introduced in the early sixties and, in his first TV appearances, looked like a scarecrow who’d been feasting on the innards of the children gullible enough to eat at McDonald’s. Seriously, this scarecrow clown creature would be more likely to make you not want to go to McDonald’s, no matter how hungry you were. It’s not surprising that so many people have clown-phobias if they were exposed to characters like this one at a young age. Over the years, Ronald McDonald has been portrayed by many different actors and his appearance has evolved greatly. People who have problems with clowns might still find the modern version of the character unsettling, but he’s definitely improved with age. Clearly, comparing modern day Ronald McDonald with this old version is literally night and day. In fact, Ronald McDonald as he is now is one of our favorite fast food mascots of all-time. It just took him a little while to figure out who he wanted to be. Consider that proof that people do in fact change, even Ronald McDonald.
1. Jared – Subway
Most people are familiar with the story of Jared from Subway. If you’re not, well, it’s not a good story. Jared was hired as a spokesperson for Subway after an impressive weight loss, which he attributed to eating only Subway sandwiches. He lost 245 pounds, to be exact. Subway thought that that was a good look for them, having a spokesperson that literally proved that eating Subway Sandwiches can help you reach your weight loss goals. Unfortunately, all was not right in wonderland and when the truth came out about Jared, it became a very, very bad look for them. For fifteen years in the early 2000s, Jared appeared in many of Subway’s commercials, sharing his story and endorsing the brand. He even made appearances in the film Sharknado and was spoofed in an episode of South Park. By 2015, the now slimmer Jared from Subway was a household name. That’s why it was such a big deal when he was investigated for multiple incidents with minors, which he was eventually charged with, in addition to possession and distribution of adult material, featuring children, yikes… He was sentenced to almost sixteen years in prison, only becoming eligible for early release after thirteen years. So, while Spongmonkeys are kind of gross, and the Sausage Mascot rather unappetizing, Jared from Subway never had any real competition for the number one spot on this list. For obvious reasons, he is hands down the worst fast-food mascot of all time. It’s too bad for Subway, as they’ve never really managed to revamp with a new spokesperson or mascot. Here’s to hoping they will soon so we can forget about Subway Jared once and for all.