WRITTEN BY: DANIEL BUKSZPAN
Fast food remains as popular as ever with Americans, who can’t cram the greasy, fried goodness into their face holes fast enough. Be that as it may, there have been periods in American history in which some fast food chains struggled to get people through their doors.
When these troubling periods arose, the people who ran the chains had to resort to extreme measures to attract customers. What did the job more often than not was branded merchandise. Memorabilia. Swag.
Hasbro Ronald McDonald Doll
Long ago, in what one assumes from the photo was the 1970s, Hasbro manufactured a Ronald McDonald in doll form to delight and amuse children. Of course, all you have to do is look at it for two seconds to see a resemblance to Pennywise the Clown from It. It’s anyone’s guess how many cases of coulrophobia were launched by this product. Still, there are many of them, including the one picture here, available for sale on eBay.
Hardee’s Lips Figure
Hardee’s is a fast food chain with locations throughout the South and Midwest. In the 1980s, it ran television commercials featuring disembodied Claymation lips. The chain produced said lips in toy form, which the customer was allowed to buy for a mere 99 cents with the purchase of hash browns. It is not known what the price was for the lips as a standalone item, but you can buy them today on Etsy for just $7.75.
McRib Tour Tee
Much like 17-year cicadas, the McRib sandwich is an item that only emerges from McDonald’s every few years. When this happens, its devotees welcome its return with a rapturous fanaticism best described as “cult-like.” This McRib Tour Tee, which lists on the back all the cities where the sandwich is sold, is the perfect item for the person in your life who welcomes the sandwich’s return with the same enthusiasm one would see for a Beatles reunion.
‘I Ate A McRib’ Enamel Pin
When the McRib enthusiast in your life has eaten the sandwich, it will not be necessary to ask if they did it. They will proudly tell you without you having to solicit the information. Rather than ask them if they want a medal for this accomplishment, you can give them this enamel pin to announce their triumph instead. That’s a well-spent $6.
Hardee’s Smurfette Glass
Fast food chains have been giving away plastic merchandise for decades, and there was a time long ago when the memorabilia could shatter if handled carelessly. Hardee’s sold such a piece of memorabilia when it created a drinking glass imprinted with the image of Smurfette, whose tenure as the only female Smurf demanded that children handle it with care, respect, and reverence.
If you never had one, you can still make your dreams come true by purchasing one on Etsy.
Big Mac Camo Duffle Bag
One of the more practical branded items sold by McDonald’s is this duffel (or “duffle”) bag, which for a mere $40 can comfortably accommodate one’s personal effects. What’s not known is the type of surroundings this self-described “camo” bag would require to fade seamlessly into its surroundings and avoid detection. Maybe the dumpster behind McDonald’s?
Kentucky Fried Chicken x Crocs
Do you wear Crocs? If yes, do your friends make fun of you for wearing them? Well, give them something to really talk about by wearing these branded Crocs, which have the look – if not the feel – of fried chicken. Sadly, the shoes are currently sold out, and there’s no telling when they might appear again, but go ahead and add them to your bucket list.
Chances are, if you work at Taco Bell during the night shift, you will see customers whose judgment is impaired by the recreational use of marijuana. Customers fitting this description should take Sheryl Sandberg’s advice and lean into it by wearing this branded t-shirt, whose tie-dyed pattern all but proclaims, “Yes, I am high. Give me some chalupas.”
Taco Bell Cravings Bike
Even if you fit the description of “weed-addled customer who wanders in at three in the morning,” it doesn’t necessarily follow that you don’t also value physical fitness. You can now counter those pernicious stereotypes by doing your Taco Bell run onthis branded bicycle, and the food itself will give you the carbo load necessary to power your trip home. One hand washes the other.
Taco Bell Sauce Packet Track Suit
It should go without saying that on windy nights, a mere tie-dyed shirt will not be enough to protect you from the elements as you bicycle your way to burrito heaven. For nights such as those, you’re going to want something warm and saucy, both inside your belly and protecting you from the elements. Please consider wearing this handsome Taco Bell track suit, which is garlanded with colorful depictions of the fast food establishment’s sauce packets.
KFC 11 Herbs & Spices Firelog
How many times has this happened to you? You build a roaring fire in your hearth, and while it warms your body, you can’t help feeling disappointed that it smells nothing like fried chicken. You can now sidestep this tragedy with KFC’s 11 Herbs & Spices Firelog, which, according to the product description, smells like the Colonel’s secret recipe. The product information advises customers, “Please do not put your face directly into the fire in an attempt to smell fried chicken.”
At the time of this writing, there were only a few of these logs still in stock.
Waffle House Lip Balm
Waffle House is a regional restaurant chain primarily found in the Southern United States. While it is unknown to what degree there is a relation between Waffle House food and chapped lips, this hasn’t stopped the chain from selling its own branded lip balm. So the next time you’re eating hash browns at a Waffle House and notice that your lips are chapped, you now have a definite course of action with which to address the situation. If you can still find it for sale somewhere like eBay.
Fried Chicken iPhone Case
While you’re sitting comfortably in your branded Crocs, enjoying the warmth of a roaring fire that smells like chicken skin, someone may need to reach you about some urgent matter on your smartphone. You can take this call in a thematically consistent way by using the fried chicken drumstick iPhone case, though probably not this one. It was only available from KFC Japan and it doesn’t seem to be around any longer, but if you need your phone to tell the world you love KFC, perhaps some of these others will do the trick.
Ronald McDonald Blow-Up Doll
Is there someone in your life who enjoys McDonald’s food but can’t interact successfully with other human beings, preferring to surround themselves with inflatable facsimiles instead? Well, when that person’s birthday rolls around, this Ronald McDonald blow-up doll will make the perfect gift. Ronald is down for a cuddle or is happy to just hang around and serve as a bobbling punching bag on really tough days.
Officer Big Mac
2020 was a year that saw unprecedented civil unrest in the United States, with many people calling to defund the police. Well, if Officer Big Mac were on patrol, those people would cease their demands immediately and without delay! Unfortunately, as the photo indicates, Officer Big Mac is unarmed, so he’s going to need backup when it’s time to take down the bloodthirsty recidivist known as the Hamburglar.
This particular Officer Big Mac from 1985 is available for sale on Etsy.
Taco Bell Cookie Stamp Set
There are few experiences in life more upsetting than when you pick up and eat what appears to be a taco, and it’s actually a taco and not a cookie. Why isn’t everything just a cookie? The fine folks at Taco Bell have solved this vexing problem with this cookie stamp set, which allows the user to make cookies in the shape of the fast food chain’s tacos and flavor packets. Delight and amaze your houseguests!
In the age of Medium, everyone has the opportunity to become a diarist and chronicle their life and times. But what can you do if you’re backpacking in Nepal and can’t get a Wi-Fi signal? Fear not. The McFlurry Journal from McDonald’s affords every person the opportunity to chronicle their innermost thoughts and emotions from anywhere, provided they remember to bring a pen.
Whataburger Justin boots
If you love Whataburger you’re either from Texas or you’ve been to Texas. That’s because just 19% of the company’s locations are located outside of the Lone Star state. That’s probably why a pair of Justin boots emblazoned with the Whataburger logo makes perfect sense. They’re a limited edition, though, so when they’re gone, they’re gone.
Whataburger running shoes
Of course, if boots aren’t your thing, you can always slip into these Whataburger themed running shoes. Whataburger does not guarantee you will get to their stores faster while wearing these.
Sonic state-themed T-shirts
If you love Sonic, you’re going to love their themed T-shirts for every state. The one shown, for example, commemorates the famous Yellowstone National Park geyser “Old Faithful” with a gushing drink flowing from a Sonic cup.
Dream Colonel Pillowcase
Little is known about this pillowcase, which depicts Colonel Sanders in profile and leaves enough room on the side for the lovelorn and lonely to lay their head next to his likeness. This pillowcase is ideal for those moments when your darkest thoughts and anxieties keep you up at night, but you only have a branded pillowcase to talk to.
Taco Bell Sauce Packet Bowtie
The people at Taco Bell know that there’s more to you than the mere fact that you like fast food purporting to be Mexican in origin. You’re a person with a busy social calendar that may or may not include weddings, and you’ll need to dress for the occasion. That’s why they’ve made this bowtie, which features pictures of the chain’s popular sauce packets, a must-have at any formal event.
Taco Bell Sauce Packet Garter
What if the wedding you’re attending is your own, you’re the bride, and you want to participate in the highly questionable ritual of having the groom remove your garter in front of everybody (not that we’re judging)? This is an appalling practice (not that we’re judging) that never should have taken hold (still not judging), but as long as it’s here and you insist on doing it, let Taco Bell brand that garter and cover it in pictures of sauce (to match your groom’s bowtie, perhaps? That’s class AND sass!). This doesn’t make the ritual any less vile (but hey, you do you), but it will be really easy to change the subject to Mexican food when it’s over.