National Hamburger Day: A history of the McDonald's Hamburglar

These days, it’s just a fact of life: At some point, the Hamburglar is going to crash your picnic and steal your hamburgers.

Most of us have simply accepted it and moved on. “I can buy more hamburgers,” we tell ourselves. “After all, I did move to McDonaldland. What was I expecting?”

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Then again, many of us might be interested to learn that these types of nuisances weren’t always the norm. Prior to 1971, no one had even heard of the Hamburglar, let alone his infuriating “robble, robble!” catchphrase.

The Hamburglar, seen here in 1991 actually giving away a Happy Meal, was originally introduced in 1971 as a much greedier, slightly creepier McDonaldland resident. (Hank DeGeorge/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

The Hamburglar, seen here in 1991 actually giving away a Happy Meal, was originally introduced in 1971 as a much greedier, slightly creepier McDonaldland resident. (Hank DeGeorge/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

The Hamburglar, widely regarded as the biggest burger fanatic since J. Wellington Wimpy, was originally introduced in 1971 as part of McDonald’s new “McDonaldland” series of ad campaigns, where he was depicted as a caped, gibberish-spewing, long-nosed bandit. He wasn’t only fixated on burgers, either. One commercial from the early ‘70s shows him stealing McDonald’s hotcakes. (“Stealing” is probably too strong a word; Ronald McDonald basically hands over the hotcakes with a smile on his face.)

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It's also worth noting that this iteration of the Hambuglar wears a shirt reading “Lone Jogger” — which is also how he was identified in the commercial.

"In an early breakfast commercial set in McDonaldland, Ronald referred to him as the 'Lone Jogger'— but other than this instance he has always been the 'Hamburglar,'" a spokesperson for McDonald's tells Fox News.

Other commercials paired the Hamburglar with Captain Crook, a pirate-like character who lusted after Filet-O-Fish sandwiches and would sometimes translate the Hamburglar’s gibberish into English for the rest of McDonald’s denizens to understand, according to Mental Floss.

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Over the years, the Hamburglar eventually grew into the rascally red-headed scamp we’re familiar with today, save for the time McDonald’s tried to reimagine him as a scruffy, hunkier, human Hamburgler in 2015, presumably to both confuse and arouse McDonald’s customers.

The 2015 campaign featuring a reimagined Hamburglar was aimed at a slightly older set of would-be consumers interested in premium offerings like the sirloin burger and artisan chicken sandwich

The 2015 campaign featuring a reimagined Hamburglar was aimed at a slightly older set of would-be consumers interested in premium offerings like the sirloin burger and artisan chicken sandwich (McDonald's)

These days, however, the Hamburglar has been largely absent from McDonald’s marketing campaigns since the early 2000s, but fans can rest easy knowing he’s still safe and sound in McDonaldland -- or at least he was as of 2016, when Mental Floss reached out for a comment on the status of the McDonaldland gang.

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“Mayor McCheese and his friends are indeed alive and well, enjoying life in McDonaldland,” then-McDonald’s executive Julie Pottebaum said.

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