Ronald McDonald is a clown who is the primary mascot of the McDonald's fast-food restaurant chain. According to the book Fast Food Nation (2001), 96% of school children in the United States can identify Ronald McDonald, making him the United States' most recognized fast food advertising icon. Only Santa Claus was more commonly recognized. In television commercials, the clown inhabits a fantasy world called McDonaldland, and has adventures with his friends Mayor McCheese, the Hamburglar, Grimace, Birdie the Early Bird, and The Fry Kids. The McDonald's Corporation has also characterized Ronald McDonald as being able to speak 31 different languages including Mandarin, Dutch, Tagalog, and Hindi.In recent years, the "childish" McDonaldland has been largely phased out, and Ronald is instead shown interacting with normal kids in their everyday lives. He was originally created by Willard Scott.
Many people work full-time making appearances in the Ronald McDonald costume, visiting children in hospitals. There are also Ronald McDonald Houses, where parents can stay overnight when visiting sick children in nearby chroni care acilities. Since August 2003, McDonald has been officially recognized as the "Chief Happiness Officer" of the McDonald's Corporation.