What Is Grimace? A McDonald's Manager May Have Solved the Mystery

Ronald McDonald and Grimace in 2020.
Ronald McDonald and Grimace in 2020. / Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Macy's, Inc.

It’s a mystery that has puzzled McDonald’s fans and Golden Arches history buffs for decades: What, exactly, is genial purple blob Grimace—the teardrop-shaped and expressive mascot that looks like no species on the planet—supposed to be?

Thanks to an off-the-cuff comment by a McDonald’s manager, we may finally have an answer as to the nature of this amorphous creature, though it might not be the one you’d expect.

In an interview with the CBC, McDonald’s manager Brian Bates of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, asserted that the mascot is—a taste bud.

“He is an enormous taste bud, but a taste bud nonetheless,” Bates said, adding that Grimace’s objective is to demonstrate that McDonald’s food tastes good.

Bates was discussing his Outstanding Manager of the Year award, with the Grimace nugget cast as an aside. There’s not yet been any official response from McDonald’s on Bates's revelation, though the company has made ambiguous reference as to the nature of Grimace in the past. A 2012 tweet from the company’s official Twitter account stated Grimace “is the embodiment of a milkshake, though others still insist he’s a taste bud.” They repeated that narrative in a 2014 tweet.

Grimace, who was first introduced in 1971, was originally depicted as a four-armed villain who stole milkshakes before evolving into a more genteel character who often began sentences with “duh.” He was part of the McDonaldland advertising effort, which also introduced Officer Big Mac and Mayor McCheese.

[h/t USA Today]