Friday, March 11, 2016

McDonald's collectibles you sell...and a few you keep.

Instead of my usual spiel recounting a few of my latest scores, I thought I'd take a diversion to talk about, of all things, McDonald's collectibles. Yep, the fast food joint. I am fascinated with the idea that common items found at Mickey D's can sometimes bring in crazy money on eBay. In some cases, it's everyday stuff found in a McDonald's bag as part of the meal, then thrown away in the trash! In addition to smaller stuff, there's also bigger store items that can bring in the dough. These once commonly found items prove there's more to take home from McDonald's then just a Happy Meal! Check out some of the things I found currently selling on eBay...

The classic McDonald's clam shell
I don't care who you are, once in a while you gotta treat yourself to a Big Mac or Quarter Pounder! Sure, you can't go crazy on them, but everyone deserves some occasional decadence. If you grew up in the Seventies or Eighties, you probably remember how the Big Mac or Quarter Pounder was served. Not in wax paper, but in a very environmentally unfriendly, Styrofoam "clam shell." They were like a little Styrofoam house for your burger! When you think back, it was a incredibly wasteful. Especially if you were just taking your Big Mac from the counter over to the Formica tables to sit down and eat. Once you sat down at the table, you popped open the box, ate your burger, then tossed the Styrofoam container in the trash can. Who needs a little Styrofoam box for that? After pressure from environmentalists, McDonald's finally figured it out, going "Green" in the late Eighties. Gone were the little Styrofoam boxes and in came thin cardboard boxes. Still kind of wasteful, but at least the cardboard breaks down in the landfill after a few years as opposed to 100 years! These days, even the cardboard box is gone. Now when you order a Quarter Pounder, it's back to being wrapped in paper just like they did prior to the clam shell. So, of course, now that the clam shell is long gone people want to collect them! Check out the above photo. A recent eBay check turned up this ten piece lot of vintage McDonald's clam shells. It sold for one hundred dollars! That works out to ten bucks for each clam! It hurts when I think back and calculate how many of these clam shells I threw away. Each time I did, I was literally throwing a ten dollar bill in the trash can...Ugh!

Pssst, not just for coffee! 
That's not the only money I was throwing away at McDonald's. Remember the original McDonald's coffee stirrer? It had a tiny little spoon on one end with the Golden Arches at the other end. Back in the Seventies, it was the perfect tool for stirring coffee, and oh yeah, measuring cocaine! You read right. The "McSpoon" as it came to be called, was popular with drug dealers and users. In fact, the tiny spoon was perfect for measuring one hundred milligrams of cocaine. But in 1979, after learning their innocuous little coffee stirrer had become a big thing with drug dealers, McDonald's did away with them. Instead, they came up with a simple flat stirrer. No more measuring cocaine with a McSpoon! Today, McDonald's collectors (and maybe drug dealers) pay decent money for the discontinued spoons. A check of recent eBay sales show an average price ranging from five to seven dollars for each little hunk of plastic! Crazy, but true.

Nintendo Super Mario display
If you're willing to take a peek inside the dumpster in back of your local McDonald's, you may come up with some other pretty nice scores. Promotional pieces that sit on the counter or floor can bring in some nice money. In one eBay auction, I found this counter display piece promoting Nintendo Mario Brothers 3. When it comes to collecting, combining Super Mario with McDonald's can be a home run. Whoever salvaged this piece must have known that. The rescued piece sold for $200 bucks on eBay! I also found an eBay auction listing a small counter display for Happy Meal Matchbox cars. That piece sold for $140 dollars at auction. Like the Nintendo piece and so many others, imagine how many displays were just tossed in the dumpster once the promotion was over! Makes me want to take a lookey-loo in the Golden Arches dumpster every once in a while. Another possibility is call the local Mickey-D's manager and just flat out ask for the display when the promotion ends. While some smart employees may have first dibs on them, it's worth a shot.

Sold for $28
But some McDonald's collectibles you just can't put a price tag on. Take for example, these vintage McDonald's coffee mugs. These guys currently sell for as much as $15 dollars a piece on eBay. I actually remember when these mugs first came out. They were free when you bought the McDonald's Egg McMuffin breakfast. Back then, McDonald's had just started to serve breakfast. It was a pretty big deal, since prior to that, their menu was basically limited to burgers, shakes and fries and that was only after 11:00 AM! But around 1977, Mickey Ds started a breakfast menu featuring the "new" Egg McMuffin. My Dad was all over that! Thereafter, every Sunday morning after church, Mom and Dad would drive to McDonald's and order an Egg McMuffin sandwich and coffee with the free McDonald's cup. My old man thought those mugs were the greatest thing since the invention of color television! They were solidly made by Anchor Hocking/Fire King, the perfect size and best of!

Over many Sunday morning visits to McDonald's, my Dad developed an impressive collection of those sturdy little mugs. The old man held onto those coffee mugs long after the McDonald's promotion was over. He put them to good use too. He always had some major project to complete around the house...painting, construction, major car repairs. You name it. Every weekend it was something different. But no matter what the project was, my Dad always, always had one of those freebie McDonald's coffee mugs in his hand. (With the ever present steam lofting from the hot coffee.) He loved those damn things! As the years moved on though, my Dad passed away and his favorite coffee mugs slowly made their way to the back of the kitchen cabinet, then eventually disappeared.

Not for sale.
Some eighteen years later, after my Mom had passed, my siblings and I cleaned out the family house. To my happy surprise, I found my Dad's McDonald's coffee mugs. It was kind of like seeing an old friend! Stacked neatly, but dusty and dirty, they were buried deep underneath the kitchen sink cabinet. (The cabinets my Dad had built years before.) I took the mugs home and have them to this day. Some still even have paint on them from a few of my Dad's many painting projects. But after all those weekend projects and trips through my Mom's Kenmore dishwasher, the mug's are not exactly in high value condition anymore. They've faded and are a little worse for wear. But it doesn't matter. They're not for sale anyway. Instead, every once in a while, I break one out and enjoy a nice cup of coffee and think about my old man. Like all those tough old coots from the Greatest Generation, I think about how my Dad went to church, loved his family, always worked hard and ate Sunday breakfast at McDonald's. All the while, perfectly happy and content with the simple things in life, like enjoying a cup of Joe in a free McDonald's coffee mug. We can learn a lot from that generation.

Anyway, what started out as a discussion on McDonald's collectibles, got a little sentimental. But hey, when it comes to your parents, what can you say, right? I'd keep writing, but apparently I got something in my eye, so that's all for now.

So how about you? Any good McDonald's or fast food collectibles in your recent flips? How about stuff you won't get rid of due to sentimental value? Share your story in the comment section below.

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