Photos Of McDonald’s From The ’80s And ’90s To Stir Up All The Nostalgia

Back when I was a kid, there were few things more joyful than taking a trip to McDonald's as a family or with a group of friends to snack on a Happy Meal and climb around the Play Place.

The experience itself holds a lot of nostalgia, and it's crazy to think how much the restaurants have changed since I was a kid. These are some photos of McDonald's restaurants from the '80s and '90s to make you feel old.

This Classic Seating

barstool-like seats that look like burgers
Photo Credit: Reddit / Bright_as_yellow
Photo Credit: Reddit / Bright_as_yellow

Back in the day, long before they got all their upgrades, the seats used to actually resemble food items or characters from McDonald's commercials, including packs of fries and Grimace.

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Oh, To Be An Infant Eating Fries In This High Chair

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mcdonald's high chair
Photo Credit: Reddit / ToyGameScroogeMcDuck
Photo Credit: Reddit / ToyGameScroogeMcDuck
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This high chair gives me a weird sense of nostalgia even though I'm almost certain I've never sat in one. I wonder if they still have them in the back rooms of restaurants.

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The Whole Crew Popping

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who's old enough to remember that Ronald McDonald used to roll with a gang? (photos of them)
Photo Credit: Reddit / SpitFyre8513
Photo Credit: Reddit / SpitFyre8513
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Looking at this photo, I recognize almost all the characters even though I only could name Ronald, the Hamburglar, and Grimace. Who are the rest of the squad and what was their purpose?

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Transformer Happy Meal Toys

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happy meal toys that look like mcdonald's food/drinks
Photo Credit: Reddit
Photo Credit: Reddit
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You thought that Transformers robots that changed into cars were cool? Well, Transformers robots that turn into McDonald's meals definitely take the cake as the cooler option. I wish I had a dual-purpose cheeseburger.

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McDonald's Apple Pies Used To Go So Hard

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mcdonald's apple pie
Photo Credit: Reddit / lady__jane
Photo Credit: Reddit / lady__jane
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Looking at this photo gave me sudden flashbacks to what it was like to pick one of these up from the drive thru and burn my mouth trying to bite into it. I wish they still fried their pies.

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They Weren't Even Good

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mcdonald's mini cookies
Photo Credit: Reddit / Costner_Facts
Photo Credit: Reddit / Costner_Facts
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I distinctly remember these cookies tasting average at best but still wanting to devour them at a rapid rate despite their often stale lack of crunch and moderately bland flavoring.

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Using These Buckets To Trick Or Treat Was The Best

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halloween happy meal buckets
Photo Credit: Reddit / t4urie
Photo Credit: Reddit / t4urie
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As a kid, Halloween is one of the best holidays: not only do you get to dress up as your favorite superhero or princess, but you also get to beg strangers for candy, and these buckets were such convenient carrying pails.

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Better Tray Liners

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tray paper with games on it
Photo Credit: Reddit / Timzor
Photo Credit: Reddit / Timzor
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These days, the dine-in tray liners are always covered in advertisements for new products or promotional deals, but back in the day, these games were where it was at.

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Birthday Party At McDonald's

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birthday party at mcdonalds
Photo Credit: Reddit / MikeTScott
Photo Credit: Reddit / MikeTScott
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I'm sad to say that I never attended a birthday party at McDonald's, unlike these lucky little guys from the early '80s. Imagine messing around with your best pals in the Play Place!

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A Retro Drive-Thru Menu

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drive thru menu photographed in 80s
Photo Credit: Reddit / buoyak
Photo Credit: Reddit / buoyak
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The drive-thru was first used by McDonald's in 1975 in a military town, but it quickly became a popular installation in their restaurants. This is a drive-thru menu that was photographed in the '80s.

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The Original Play Land

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outdoor playplace with equipment shaped like burger
Photo Credit: Reddit / sugarcain
Photo Credit: Reddit / sugarcain
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Today, we're used to the indoor play structures made of tubes and slides for children to mess around in following their meal, but back in the day, they had outdoor playgrounds like this!

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The Garfield Cup Collection

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cups with garfield comics on them
Photo Credit: Reddit
Photo Credit: Reddit
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Growing up, you likely had at least one of these Garfield cups sitting around as a relic of a trip to a McDonald's restaurant that your family kept forever for some reason.

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This Establishment Has Remained Unchanged Since The '90s

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dining room in mcdonald's that hasn't changed since the 80s
Photo Credit: Reddit / whistle_tips
Photo Credit: Reddit / whistle_tips
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While most McDonald's restaurants have gone through a few renovations since the end of the '90s, this location has remained pretty untouched. Thinking about how current locations look a little bit more like caf├ęs now, this picture is a drastic juxtaposition.

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I Can't Imagine McDonald's Packaging Not Being Cardboard

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styrofoam mcdonald's container
Photo Credit: Reddit / molrobocop
Photo Credit: Reddit / molrobocop
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I am so used to the greasy paper packaging surrounding my Junior Chickens and the cardboard boxes that the main burgers from in. Can you imagine opening a styrofoam case with chicken nuggets inside?

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Coffee Stirrers From The Past

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mini spoons for stirring coffee
Photo Credit: Reddit / BuzzOnBuzzOff
Photo Credit: Reddit / BuzzOnBuzzOff
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These tiny spoons with long handles look like they were created to feed kids who are absolute biters, but they were actually the first stir sticks introduced once McDonald's started serving coffee.

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These Plates Just Made The Meal Better

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plastic plates featuring characters from Disney's Hercules
Photo Credit: Reddit / Closetbigfoot
Photo Credit: Reddit / Closetbigfoot
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I don't know why McDonald's gave out these plates, but I don't care: by some form of magic they made the meal (and every meal you ate on them at home) taste infinitely better.

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When Worlds Collide

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sign for beenie babies as happy meal toys
Photo Credit: Reddit / angelsgirl2002
Photo Credit: Reddit / angelsgirl2002
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McDonald's Happy Meals and Beanie Babies were two of the most popular icons of the late '90s and early 2000s for me. The fact that they did collabs was the perfect crossover.

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Chocolate Ice Cream Was A Thing?

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ad for soft serve twist ice cream cones
Photo Credit: Reddit
Photo Credit: Reddit
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Everyone today is familiar with McDonald's McFlurry ice cream concoctions as well as the traditional vanilla cone, but I never knew customers of the past also had the chance to not be served chocolate ice cream because the machine was broken!

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It's A Disgrace To Call This A Hand Puppet

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plastic hand puppet of ronald mcdonald
Photo Credit: Reddit / pokey420
Photo Credit: Reddit / pokey420
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This glorified plastic garbage bag had no business calling itself a hand puppet. No child in their right mind genuinely enjoyed manipulating this little plastic Ronald McDonald figurine for more than 20 seconds.

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This Activates My Fight Or Flight Response

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Salad ingredients in plastic cups
Photo Credit: Reddit / KookStats
Photo Credit: Reddit / KookStats
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McDonald's salads are a controversial enough menu item as they currently are, but this DIY, shake-it-up salad kit had to have been hated in the past. I refuse to believe otherwise.

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This Gives Me Soccer Tournament Flashbacks

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water cooler with mcdonalds logo on it
Photo Credit: Worthpoint
Photo Credit: Worthpoint
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One look at this water cooler has me flashing back to a soccer tournament at the end of the house league season. The Powerade (normally orange flavor) from these was always watered down but still delicious.

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We Love A Branded Ashtray

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amber mcdonald's ashtray
Photo Credit: Reddit / shanster925
Photo Credit: Reddit / shanster925
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These ashtrays used to be commonplace in McDonald's restaurants all across the country in the '70s and '80s because smoking in restaurants was the norm back in the day. Nothing like a cigarette and a Quarter Pounder!

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This Bench In Walmarts

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ronald mcdonald on bench in Mcdonald's in a Walmart
Photo Credit: Reddit / monster_bear
Photo Credit: Reddit / monster_bear
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I don't know why it was so common for Walmart stores to contain a McDonalds, but even weirder was the fact that they all also had this bench with Ronald on it.

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This Was As Good As Candy

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halloween gift certificate from Mcdonalds for a free drink
Photo Credit: Reddit / WorstNameEver242
Photo Credit: Reddit / WorstNameEver242
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Normally, the people who gave out items that weren't candy on Halloween were the most hated houses on the block: the toothbrush and apple givers. However, these certificates were fair game.

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I Think I Still Have One Of These

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dinosaur head puppets
Photo Credit: Reddit
Photo Credit: Reddit
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I know I definitely picked up one of these bad boys from a Happy Meal just after Disney's Dinosaur came out, but I'm also pretty certain that it's still in some cupboard at my parents' home.

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This Was The Floor Of Every McDonald's

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floor tiles
Photo Credit: Reddit / moonshoot3r
Photo Credit: Reddit / moonshoot3r
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Sometimes it's crazy to think of how all McDonald's restaurants across North America looked the exact same, had the same menu, and offered the exact same experience every single visit.

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The Super Mario Box!

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super mario themed happy meal box
Photo Credit: Reddit / CJK610
Photo Credit: Reddit / CJK610
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Remember the days when all you wanted was to buy the latest Super Mario game for your Game Boy Color, which you couldn't even see the screen of unless it was daylight?

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Build-Your-Own McDonald's!

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toys that resemble mcdonald's food
Photo Credit: Reddit / Jaimass
Photo Credit: Reddit / Jaimass
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It wasn't enough to just play restaurant with normal toys: Fisher-Price came out with this line of McDonald's plastic food items for kids to run their own franchise at home!

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The Old Toys Will Always Beat The New Ones

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disney VCR tapes with princess figurines
Photo Credit: Reddit / trvl_3r87
Photo Credit: Reddit / trvl_3r87
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These are the toys from the "Disney video masterpiece" line of McDonald's Happy Meals. Compared to the figurines available today, these were god-tier things to get in those little cardboard boxes.

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This Will Always Be The Ultimate Setup

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mcdonalds dining room with stickers on walls
Photo Credit: Reddit / Bjcistok
Photo Credit: Reddit / Bjcistok
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I don't care what renovations the restaurants go through or what new services that they might offer today or in the future. This photo right here was the ideal look.

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The Nugget Pals In Halloween Costumes

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chicken nugget toys dressed in Halloween costumes
Photo Credit: Reddit / PeaceFrog229
Photo Credit: Reddit / PeaceFrog229
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I don't know who thought that the way to a child's heart was to create vaguely humanoid items from their meal and dress them up as monsters, but they were definitely misguided.

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This Early 1970s Menu

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menu from the early 70s has very limited menu
Photo Credit: Reddit / HellsJuggernaut
Photo Credit: Reddit / HellsJuggernaut
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I wish, with my whole heart, that I could still go to McDonald's and get three whole cheeseburgers for less than a dollar even though my arteries would be less than thrilled.

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The Late Night Mascot

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man with face of moon in mcDonald's ad
Photo Credit: Reddit / BrutusMK2
Photo Credit: Reddit / BrutusMK2
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This is Mac Tonight, the official mascot of McDonald's late-night operations in the 1980s. A few of the restaurants in the USA still have an animatronic version of him inside.

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A Home McDonald's Restaurant

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McDonald's play kitchen
Photo Credit: Reddit / Microphone_Assassin
Photo Credit: Reddit / Microphone_Assassin
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It was totally normal to have a play kitchen in your house as a child, but only the true elite cool kids had the McDonald's version with the drive thru window included.

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These Seats Were Definitely Covered In Germs

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seats in children's play area are shaped like mascot team members
Photo Credit: Reddit / endlesswaveofwhat
Photo Credit: Reddit / endlesswaveofwhat
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There was nothing quite like oscillating between shoving fries into your mouth at one of these chairs in the kids' section before clambering back into the Play Place with grease on your fingers.

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"Orange Drink" Just Sounds So Ominous

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small cups with sign that says
Photo Credit: Reddit / tbhunt
Photo Credit: Reddit / tbhunt
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It wasn't quite orange juice, orange soda, or orange Gatorade. Orange Drink was just something we universally accepted at every sporting event, local fair, or large children's birthday party.

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The SEGA Happy Meal Games

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electronic mini games from happy meals
Photo Credit: Reddit / Wondermonkeydans
Photo Credit: Reddit / Wondermonkeydans
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I distinctly remember spending an unreasonable amount of time squinting to play on one of these as the sun set in the back of my parents' car during a road trip.

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The Batman Forever Glass Series

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glass mug with the riddler on it
Photo Credit: Reddit / OriginalReach
Photo Credit: Reddit / OriginalReach
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At McDonald's in the mid-90s, you could get one of these Batman Forever theme glasses for 99 cents. Why anyone would want one, in the long run, beats me, but they sure were memorable.

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I Repressed My Memories Of Hit Clips

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mcdonald's hit clips
Photo Credit: Reddit / Jayhawk11
Photo Credit: Reddit / Jayhawk11
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Before the iPod graced humanity, there were Hit Clips, which may have been the worst way to listen to music ever created. You could get these in a McDonald's meal and listen to one minute of a song.

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All In All, We Were Lovin' It

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80s packaging with paper bags
Photo Credit: Reddit / Jhenning04
Photo Credit: Reddit / Jhenning04
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Things may have changed drastically over the years that McDonald's has been in business, but it's fun to think about all the great memories the place held for me as a kid and it will always make me a little nostalgic.