Everyone Was Googling Grimace All Summer

The McDonald's-centric search term "Who is Grimace?" was all over America's search history in 2023.

McDonald's nostalgia-based marketing has seen some tremendous successes over the past few years, from the Halloween Boo Buckets to the Adult Happy Meal. But nostalgia tends to hit for only one generation at a time; after all, what I recall fondly from my own childhood might be something that Gen Z has never even heard of. So when McDonald's announced that June 2023 would be dedicated to Grimace's birthday celebrations (complete with a new shake), a lot of people responded with delight—but others were left wondering, Who the hell is Grimace?

Online gambling website Casino.org has published Google Trends data on which search terms saw uniquely high volume in summer 2023, state by state. When it came to Googling the popular "Who is..." query, the question "Who is Grimace?" topped search terms in a whopping 29 U.S. states. This was an even more popular search term than the old standby, "Who is the richest person in the world?" (Hint: It's not Grimace.)

Okay, so... who is Grimace?

For all those who might have been confused by his month-long birthday party and taken to Google to enlighten themselves, Grimace is a big purple alien-esque creature who has been making appearances in McDonald's marketing campaigns for more than 50 years. McDonaldland, the advertising universe populated by Ronald, Grimace, Mayor McCheese, Birdie, the Fry Kids, and others, debuted on TV in 1970 and remained a fixture of the brand until the early '00s. Across the decades, Grimace lost a few of his once numerous arms and went from a bad guy to a good one, which is probably a relief for Officer Big Mac, who already had his hands full with the Hamburglar.

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While clowns have lost a lot of their allure since Ronald came onto the scene, the public's affinity for a fuzzy purple taste-bud-shaped guy has only grown. Last year, McDonald's tested bringing Grimace back in the form of a four-eyed figurine designed by Cactus Plant Flea Market and sold as part of a wildly popular McDonald's combo meal colloquially known as the Adult Happy Meal. With results like that, McDonald's would have been foolish not to play up its Grimace affiliation.

The Grimace Birthday Meal was a similar success, but not for the same reasons. A viral TikTok phenomenon involved turning the Grimace Shake into a horror movie, a stunt that young people took to with alarming dedication and enthusiasm. McDonald's, in turn, was laughing all the way to the bank. (Crossing my fingers for the return of Uncle O'Grimacey next.)

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If you had Googled "Who is Grimace?" even just a year ago, the results would have been a lot less colorful. Now that McDonald's has brought its best character back into the spotlight, it won't be long before no one has to Google who Grimace is—they'll already know.

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