McDonald's says its newest mascot is intended to inspire good eating habits in children — but its launch today on Facebook and Twitter seemed primarily to inspire dread in the restaurant chain's customers. Happy, an anthropomorphic Happy Meal with an improbably large mouth and the Golden Arches implanted into his brain, debuted on social media today to a chorus of screams. In an age where memes are born and spread with astonishing speed, Happy appears to have been built to take over the web.
Happy, whose official title is "Happy Meal brand ambassador," has arrived in America to promote the fact that children can now get a 50-calorie side of yogurt to go with their meal. He debuted in 2009 in France, where he was apparently well received. In a post today on Facebook, the company promised: "We guarantee you'll be smiling in 3, 2, 1 ..." But many of the franchise's fans weren't buying it. For some, McDonald's had managed the unlikely trick of discovering a mascot more disturbing than a child-loving clown. "Nightmare food," offered one John Estey. "So creepy," said Onika Abbott. Not helping matters is the fact that Happy can apparently clone himself at will.
Over on Twitter, which is no stranger to bizarre memes, reaction was equally harsh.
. @McDonalds this looks like the monster that killed my uncle— steev (@Naive_Steve) May 19, 2014
Hey @McDonalds is that Gary Busey?— Ian (@muddymudskipper) May 19, 2014
In fact, Happy's oddly vacant expression and single-minded devotion to fast food make him as likely to be a hero of the stoned Weird Twitter movement as he will be a villain. Time will tell whether our pointing and laughing at Happy makes him a superstar or forces McDonald's to retreat to the more comforting sales pitches of Grimace and the Hamburglar. In the meantime there's a giant box made out of teeth that would like you to buy some yogurt. Happy Photoshopping.
Josh Lowensohn contributed to this report.