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The Speedee banks can be found the secondary markets occasionally. Expect to part with $25 to $50. (Photography by Mary Jane Lamphier)

A quick burger meant ‘Speedee’ was on the job

“I’m Speedee” the road sign said.  Young people have no idea who Speedee is. Speedee was the first McDonald’s Restaurant mascot and he carried a sign with his name on it so everyone would know who he was.  The mascot dates back to 1952.

Speedee was the little character winking at the public, wearing a chef’s hat a white shirt and black tie and striped trousers, on the McDonald’s signs. This was all before the McDonald’s Restaurant golden Arches, that tower above the establishment and before Ronald McDonald and all his friends arrived.  

During the time that Speedee was popular, buttons, with Speedee’ picture on them were distributed. Actually Speedee had a short life and to my knowledge, there were no dolls made in his image in the 1950s and 1960s. Initially Speedee’s image was on a sign and the character carried a small sing that had the price of a hamburger printed on it. At that time a hamburger was only 15 cents.   

In the 1950s and 1960 McDonald’s was referred to as the “Speedee Service System.”  The mascot represented a speedy chef. We must remember this was at the time that fresh potatoes were washed, peeled, sliced, and fried in the restaurant; and Coca Cola and Root Beer was drawn from a barrel.

Speedee was retired in 1962 and a new logo captured the customer’s attention. There was a popular jungle, “Look for the Golden Arches.” No one could miss the huge Golden arches high in the sky, a landmark near the McDonald’s restaurants.  

By 1963, Ronald McDonald began appearing in McDonald’s Restaurants. The happy clown was a big hit early on. The company even placed life-sized Ronald sitting on a bench in the some of the McDonald’s Restaurant lobbies so children of all ages could sit on his lap for photographs. However it wasn’t only the kids that sat in Ronald’s lap. Adults liked to have their picture taken to!   

Willard Scott was the first man to wear the Ronald McDonald clown costume. The live Ronald appeared in Macey’s 1966 Thanksgiving parade and

Ronald was named the McDonald’s Corporation official spokesperson. Speedee was literally forgotten.

It was not until 2000 that the Speedee ceramic figural banks were made in memory of the first McDonalds logo. Speedee has a hamburger bun shaped head. The nine-inch banks were originally retailed through the “trademark Collection Catalog”. They were marketed in cardboard boxes with the McDonald’s and Ensco logos.  Ensco Group Inc. was licensed to make the Speedee banks. And the Ad world and bank collectors are happy they did.