The Grimace Trend Was Bigger Than Anyone Could Imagine - Even McDonald's

Thanks to the wild antics of McDonald's fans on social media, the weeks following the birthday of one of the chain's most recognizable mascots on June 12, 2023, will go down in fast food history. The feral Grimace shake trend following the ginormous taste bud's birthday caused an unexpected internet explosion that had the world seeing purple. Once the character's milkshake flavor was released, a treat made vividly lavender by a vegetable-based ingredient, it wasn't long before creators ran with it, literally. The trend involved sippers running for their lives from Grimace, meeting a creatively-staged demise after ingesting the shake, and spewing purple everywhere from parking lots to secluded forests.

If you thought this whole thing was a curated marketing tactic spread by the Golden Arches itself, you'd be mistaken. Credit goes to TikTok user @thefrazmaz for starting the trend, which circulated the internet organically. McDonald's was constantly asked about its role in all this. The company's Head of Social Media, Guillaume Huin, responded in a tweet on July 12, explaining that everyone at Mickey D's initially wasn't sure what to do amidst all the welcomed chaos. As much as the chain would like to have conceptualized this campaign, "This was a level of genius creativity and organic fun that I could never dream about or plan for — it was all from the fans, and the fans only." His team's only role in it "was giving the 'tools' to play with" during Grimace's reintroduction.

McDonald's response to the Grimace trend is as wholesome as it gets

McDonald's took time to process and decide whether or not it should acknowledge the trend, but it eventually decided it was all about "brilliant creativity, unfiltered fun, peak absurdist Gen Z humor," and building a genuine connection with fans. So instead of ignoring it or fueling it, Huin's team chose to make creators feel seen and heard, nodding to their creativity without "stealing their thunder," by posting to their social media platforms a photo of Grimace with the caption, "Mee pretending I don't see the Grimace shake trend."

It's a pretty classy approach for a huge brand like McDonald's to just let the internet do its thing instead of actively capitalizing on the ideas of others. They could have let the unexpected success of the shake have a lengthy day in the sun, but they kept it special by keeping it short. To the disappointment of horror enthusiasts hoping to participate in the hilariously dark fad, Grimace said his farewells on Twitter on July 6, putting an end to the hazy fever dream that was the Grimace shake trend. Some would agree that Grimace's moment in the spotlight provided just the dose of collective laughter we need right now, and others may be waving goodbye with relief. We'll all be waiting to see if the purple blob and his shake make an appearance for birthday festivities next year. Till then, thanks for the memories, Grimace.