The Instigator
Con (against)
20 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
9 Points

Ronald McDonald 'Retirement'

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/8/2010 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,102 times Debate No: 11684
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (5)




Greetings Brian!

I thought I would invite you to this debate since you like the miscellaneous and random. This fits the bill. I recall that once you argued against obese people, so I hope you won't mind this change of tune - arguing for them. :P

However, this is a saddening and almost depressing revelation. Is personal responsibility being eroded so that a mere symbol can be blamed upon the choices and actions of hundreds of thousands of people?

This debate is predominantly about the blame of the famed McDonalds symbol Ronald McDonald. A group of protesters have raised a protest and requested that Ronald be retired, "...for nearly 50 years, Ronald has been hooking our kids on unhealthy food and spurring a deadly epidemic of diet-related disease,"

I aim to prove that this is an unfounded folly and absurd to state the least.

Ronald McDonald doesn't force anybody to eat at McDonalds. Rather, he has represented a restaurant for fifty years and brought joy to advertising. Indeed, he appeals to children, but there are a great variety of promotional symbols, icons and figures that do likewise. Bud Light, for example, is viewed to be sexy and handsome - always having a great time. Why don't people spend time campaigning against him and the far worse effects of alcohol than on an innocent and legitimate symbol of both a restaurant and a variety of Charity Organizations.

Apologies, Brian, if you find this to be a favoured debate or do not wish to debate on the Pro side of this group and their arguments. I thought, however, that you might enjoy it, due to the absurdity of what this group is proposing. : )


I should like to thank 1stLordoftheVeneribilty for issuing me with this obesity-related challenge.

It is true, by the way, that obesity features regularly in my debates. This is because I am passionate about the wellbeing of society in general and of the health of the obese in particular and that is why I believe Ronald McDonald should be retired.

I will elaborate on this shortly, but first I think it is important to put the McDonald's brand into its true historical context. For those of you who don't care about the real story behind McDonald's, please skip to the seventh paragraph from last, but those of you who would like to know the truth behind the world's largest restaurant chain, please read on.

Back in the early 1950's a semi-literate Italian immigrant called Ronaldo Donaldo set up a stall next to the circus on Coney Island beach. From this stall he sold meatballs with spaghetti and, in order to attract customers, he wore a clown's outfit. He also erected a large sign above the stall on which he painted a large letter "M" because, being unable to read and write properly, he couldn't spell the word "meatballs".

As it happened, sales of Donaldo's meatballs were slow, largely due to the fact that there was a very popular chicken burger stall located next door. This stall was run by a retired army officer from Kentucky who went by the name of Colonel Sanders.

Then, late one summer's morning, before Colonel Sanders had opened his stall, Donaldo heard a commotion coming from the nearby circus.

Somehow, a herd of obese people had escaped from the freak show and were stampeding through the crowds. When they caught the scent of Donaldo's meatballs on the breeze, they headed directly for his stall and fell upon his Italian-style ground beef snacks and began to devour them greedily.

Now, by time the obese people's keeper had rounded them all up and corralled them back into their enclosure, Donaldo had nothing left to sell apart from a few dozen meatballs that had been knocked to the ground in the chaos and had been trampled on. Forlornly, Donaldo scooped the flattened meatballs up, put them back in their trays and wondered what to do next.

Shortly, Colonel Sanders arrived and Donaldo told him what happened and how he was sure nobody would want to buy meatballs that fat people had trodden on.

The Colonel agreed that nobody would buy squashed meatballs but if they would buy chicken burgers, they might also go for beef burgers and he offered to sell Donaldo some of his burger buns to put them in.

Donaldo was sceptical but he had little choice so he bought three-dozen buns from the Colonel and decided to paint "beef burgers" under the big "M" on his sign.

Now, being only semi-literate hampered him here and, although he was able to copy the word "burgers" from Colonel Sander's sign, he couldn't spell the word "beef" so he just wrote "ham" instead.

To Donaldo's amazement and Colonel Sander's dismay, these revolutionary new "ham burgers" did a roaring trade and he had sold them all within the hour.

Buoyed by this success, Donaldo decided to abandon his meatballs and spaghetti altogether and only sell burgers in future.

To his delight, and his considerable enrichment, the huge popularity of his burgers enabled him to expand his business and within a few years there were Donaldo's Ham Burgers outlets all over New York.

The success of Donaldo's enterprise soon caught the attention of a disgraced British aristocrat by the name of Lord Kroc of Shite. This ennobled English exile bought the business from Donaldo at a price he couldn't refuse.

Now, although Kroc changed the names of the restaurants slightly from "Donaldo's Ham Burgers" to "McDonald's Hamburgers" he did retain the trademark "M" for "meatballs" on the signs and he also used images of Donaldo dressed in his customary clown costume in the company's advertising as these were what regular customers associated the brand with.

So, from those relatively humble beginnings, Kroc grew McDonald's into the world's biggest restaurant chain and although few people now remember Ronaldo Donaldo by name, a picture of him renamed Ronald McDonald but still dressed as a clown will be instantly recognisable to any obese kid today.

This brings me nicely to my main argument; which is: that because the Ronald McDonald character is cynically aimed directly at children (1), he should be retired.

You see, until recently, obesity in children was very rare indeed but, in direct correlation with the expansion of fast food chains such as McDonald's, it has grown to a point where now 15% of children (aged 6-19 years) in the US are obese. (2)

We all know that consuming too many calories and not doing enough exercise leads to weight gain and that the McDonald's menu is notoriously unhealthy. The items on McDonald's Happy Meals children's menu range between 470-650 calories and 18-31g fat (3) which represents between a large proportion of a child's recommended daily intake. (4) Nevertheless, McDonald's still employ the Ronald McDonald character to attract children to their outlets.

The point my opponent made about taking personal responsibility is well noted, but clearly, some parents are not responsible and do not make decisions in the best interests of their children's health.

That's why, on occasions, governments have to step in to protect children and is why, for example, tobacco products and alcohol, including the Bud beer my opponent claims is marketed at youngsters, may not be legally sold to, or consumed by, minors.

For the same reason, inappropriate advertising campaigns such as those featuring Ronald McDonald, which are potentially damaging to children's health, should be withdrawn.

Thank you.

Debate Round No. 1


Good show, I commend you for your humanitarian actions of well-being. :P

I regret to inform the readers that though my opponent's proclamation of the inception of McDonalds was most hilarious (I got a good laugh out of it), it is incorrect. Richard and Maurice McDonald formed the 'Speedee Service System' in California in 1948. In 1954, they created a simple menus of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, french fries, shakes or soft drinks etc. they concentrated primarily upon maximum efficiency by an assembly line parallel of their kitchen. They valued speed as much as quality or imagination.

They initially created Speedee to become their Mascot, but replaced him with the happy clown Ronald McDonald in '67, just before the 'Burger Wars' era.

Ray Kroc did purchase the McDonalds franchise, but the chap wasn't illiterate - he was, in fact, and aggressive and successful businessman.

I will agree that Ronald McDonald is a marketing ploy aimed at children, however he is received just as enthusiastically by the larger as the smaller. Many young children are scared of him, whereas the older, even the teenagers, get a rush from having their picture taken with good ol' Ronald (much like Mickey Mouse). Several people have attested that their children never even heard of Ronald - they go for the toy and the play structure (of which few other fast food restaurants provide).

"We eat at McDonalds every couple weeks because my kids enjoy it and I like not making supper. I don't think my kids even know who Ronald McDonald is, they want to go so they can get the newest toy that is out, that's what is pulling my kids in." ~ Greg, New Brunswick *

Also, there are a variety of other marketing ploys that target children. In fact, marketing is primarily about drawing a crowd. There are two divisions regarding children: Muppet Market (Under 6) and preteen market (6-12). Then there's the teen market. Their are a plethora of advertisements which utilize a figure to appeal to the children. Perhaps we should abolish Santa Claus for making children greedy? Or being on Coca Cola campaigns. Perhaps the Easter Bunny should be abolished - after all, he influences children to eat chocolate far too voraciously. Tony the Tiger? Cheetah? What about Cookie Monster? As I stated in round one, what happened to personal responsibility?

Indeed, recently is the issue, but it isn't only McDonalds fault, and especially not Ronald's. Compare this with the overabundance of television and video games children allow to consume all of their available time. They get no exercise, outside of mandatory Physical education. Fifty years ago, electronics were scarce and children spent their time actively, burning those calories. Now, lack of activity, compounded with excessive sweets, fast food and microwaveable dinners, children become obese. How many times a day are children actually able to visit McDonalds? None, unless their parents decide to transport them there. However, school cafeteria food undoubtedly has a comparable degree of calories.

Indeed, we should withdraw every single ad that doesn't feature a salad, shouldn't we? Or perhaps chopped olives. Way to go Subway, as they're likely the only fast food restaurant to feature these vegetables - with 'cute' animated monkeys appealing to children.

Furthermore, Ronald McDonald can never be a negative icon (unless somebody impersonates him and defiles his figure). I will expound further in my argument on Round 2, but compare Ronald, endorsing morals and good behaviour, always optimistic and never scandalous, as compared to, say, Tiger Woods, Dany Heatley, Ben Roethlesberger, Lindsey Lohan, Lady GaGa, Miley Cyrus or Madonna. These people have represented or endorsed a product, and have engaged in scandalous behaviour. With Woods' disloyalty to his family, Nike suffered a large degree as its sales were affected ( ). What kind of icon does he portray to those who idolize him? Young Children adore Miley Cyrus with screaming fanfare, yet she let Disney down with a Topless photo shoot. Roethlesberger, favoured quarterback of thousands of children, implicated in a sexual assault case. There are an unlimited amount of such icons; I chose some mild (recent) ones.
In comparison to these flawed human icons, Ronald McDonald looks like a prime citizen - his only crime attracting children to eat at a restaurant - one ploy among millions.

Thanks for a great debate, thus far.



I extend my thanks to 1stLordoftheVeneribilty for his considered response but does he really expect the voters to believe his ridiculous version of the history of McDonald's?

What he's saying is that two men met and it turned out that, not only were they both interested in cooking (which in the late 1940's was strictly women's work) but also that, by pure coincidence, they happened to share the surname "McDonald".

This seemed highly unlikely to me so I thought I'd check his story but the only source he provided to was a list of famous McDonalds and guess what? Neither Richard nor Maurice McDonald are on it! But top marks for imagination to my opponent anyway!

By the way, in my true account of the history of McDonalds, I never stated that Lord Kroc was illiterate; it was Ronaldo Donaldo that couldn't read and write properly.

My opponent then went on to list a number of other ruthless corporations that peddle unhealthy products to innocent children in order to make massive profits for their callous, grasping shareholders - but this debate is specifically about the worst offender – McDonald's, so we should ignore the fact that they are not the only villains in the piece.

It would appear that my opponent and I agree that eating too much junk food and staying indoors playing video games rather than going out to play has led to many American children becoming dangerously overweight. I further concur that it is their parents' fault. These people are behaving extremely irresponsibly and the worst offenders should have their kids taken off them and be prosecuted for child abuse, just as they are here in the UK.

Nevertheless, that doesn't excuse McDonald's from making the problem worse by encouraging kids to ram greasy burgers and fries down their neck at every given opportunity.

1stLordoftheVeneribilty then goes on to cite various examples of celebrities that have fallen from grace and wrote:

"Young Children adore Miley Cyrus with screaming fanfare, yet she let Disney down with a Topless photo shoot."

Really? I think she is far too naive and innocent to do anything like that and I won't believe it unless my opponent produces the photos as proof.

As far as the rest are concerned, they paid their price for their indiscretions and were forced to change their ways.

Tiger Woods, for example, got a golf club wrapped around his head and lost millions of dollars in sponsorship deals when his wife found out he'd been unfaithful to her. Furthermore, he had to make a public apology and promise to resist the temptation to ‘exchange courtesies' with ‘ladies of questionable virtue' in the future. (1)

In conclusion, because others do wrong in life doesn't mean McDonald's should be allowed to get away with ruining the health of suggestible children whose parents are too irresponsible to take care of them properly and for that reason Ronald McDonald should be retired.

Thank you.

Debate Round No. 2


I also thank my opponent for posting his debate. His defence of a ludicrous story is admirable, even if it is incongruous.

Richard and Maurice ('Dick and Mac') McDonald are siblings. Rather than dithering over minute details, I shall rather give the final source:

And who is to say that the 'worst offender' is McDonalds? My opponent makes this assertion, but my opinion differs. McDonalds provides a careful calorie description of all of its products and offers a variety of healthy alternatives, including salad, soup and apple slices. They ensure that the consumers are undoubtedly informed of the product - and its negative consequences for the na�ve and irresponsible. There are many that don't thoughtfully enlighten their customers as McDonalds does. Yum! Brands inc. is the largest fast food company in the world, yet Pizza Pizza, Taco Bell, KFC and Wingstreet don't deign to provide the same degree of information. Many attest that Kentucky Fried Chicken is considerably greasier than McDonalds. Coca Cola markets nothing but sugary carbonated soda that extracts irreplaceable calcium from children's bones.

Even if McDonalds were the worst offender, I repeat my previous arguments that Ronald is not responsible for many of the parents bringing their children to McDonalds. The toys offered with Happy Meals should be accused as responsible more than Ronald.

I am unwilling to provide pictures of that Miley Cyrus photo shoot, as my opponent proclaims, but I can and will provide sources regarding the incident.

The point of my mention regarding human icons is that they are morally fallible and often corrupt. Ronald McDonald is not one of them. Ronald McDonald is a positive symbol of McDonalds; he cannot commit any moral wrong or unethical action as he is merely a symbol and mascot. Unless somebody defiles his name, Ronald McDonald is uncompromiseable. He can only be optimistic and cheerful, often endorsing morals. When children 'idolise' a pop star or some famous figure, they are often let down when the star becomes involved in such scandal - and what does this indicate to the kids? that such action is acceptable because their star got away with it? Rather, Ronald will never be caught engaged in scandalous behaviour, and he shant let down any child - is it not better to idolize a symbolic figure than can do no wrong?

Also, Ronald McDonald is the symbolic head of the Ronald McDonald Children's charity organizations. Without him being the moral head of charity, they will have to reform and create a new symbol. Ronald has symbolically helped thousands of children and hurt none whatsoever - how can any person feel justified in creating him into a criminal for something he doesn't do? Has Ronald McDonald ever personally led a child to eat in McDonalds? Of course not!

Justice must prevail! Vote con.

Thanks for a great debate, Brian. I thoroughly enjoyed it.


I would like to thank 1stLordoftheVenerbility for a very entertaining debate.

With regard to our differing versions of the history of McDonald's my opponent posted a link to the McDonalds' website as "evidence" to support his outlandish claims.

Ladies and gentlemen, you must agree that this is hardly an independent source. Indeed, the McDonald's website is a tool that the company uses to promote itself and to increase sales. Their skewed version of events is no more than propaganda designed to deceive the public into believing that their background is honourable and wholesome, when we all know it is not.

To believe the McDonald's story on the McDonald's website would be like basing your understanding of Jewish history on "Mein Kampf" by Adolf Hitler.

Moving on, my opponent argues that Ronald McDonald is a positive role model for children who often endorses morals.
What morals are these? "Greed is good"? "Survival of the fattest"? "The best things in life are served with fries"?

Yes, it's true Ronald McDonald promotes certain charities but the actual donations are made by their customers – McDonald's don't put their hand in their own pocket – every last penny they make goes straight to their grasping, faceless shareholders.

Finally, of course Ronald McDonald doesn't physically lead children by the hand through the doors of McDonalds but he does increase sales of their unhealthy products to children – if he didn't, McDonalds would retire him themselves.

The sad fact is that in a country where over half the population is overweight many parents do not realise that feeding their children too much junk food can lead to serious long-term health problems and that is why Ronald McDonald is so counter-productive to educating children about the dangers associated with an unhealthy lifestyle.

Therfore, Ronald McDonald should be retired.

Please vote Pro.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by 1stLordofTheVenerability 7 years ago
Yeah, I did. ha ha, that would have been something to see. Not only this, but he wasn't wearing an entire costume...
Posted by Freethinker23 7 years ago
Did you know that Ronald McDonald was originally played by TV weatherman Willard Scott?
Posted by 1stLordofTheVenerability 7 years ago
Good show! Thanks for accepting. :D It will be good fun.
Posted by brian_eggleston 7 years ago
Brilliant! I'm going to enjoy this one I'm sure!
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