Each Monday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets around Los Angeles.

The Hamburger Hunt: A Ronald McDonald Mystery Book

Author:None listed, but Jay Haws did the art

Date: 1978

Publisher: Playtime Products Inc.

Discovered at: Gorman Antique Mall, Gorman, CA, that unincorporated little patch of gas stations and off-road trails 60 miles north on the I-5

Representative Quote:

“Hello, Captain,” said Ronald. “Did you see who took the hamburgers and hijacked the the train that scared the Goblins, bumped Grimace, and spilled his shake?”

As Herodotus tells us, the Egyptian pharaoh Psammetichus once snatched a couple of babies and chucked them into a middle-of-nowhere hut with nobody around but a mute caretaker. Unlike most amber-alert scenarios, this was designed to serve science: Psammetichus figured this was a sensible first step toward determining once and for all which language is the oldest and truest.

So, the pharoah and the mute guy waited for the kids to start talking.

I forget what those kids said, but I can guarantee what you would hear today from even the most cruelly sensory-deprived, isolated-for-a-cause child: “Happy Meal.”

By “sensory-deprived” and “isolated for a cause,” I am of course referring to the young people of California's other great city, ground zero in the Golden State's war on the Golden Arches. Seriously, even the most sugar-deprived, no-TV, hippy-raised kids I know dream of McDonalds.

That's probably not the fault of the charmless The Hamburger Hunt, a hard-shilling freebie so cynical it actually includes TMs after character names in the text itself:

At first I thought it was just creepy and stupid that this Big Mac character seems so eager to eat teensy versions of his own head. Then, when he goes on to order “a big, tasty hamburger,” I realized that maybe the whole story is some kind of parable for Mad Cow disease.

By the end of page one Ronald McDonald discovers that all of the hamburgers have gone missing. This is the “real McDonaldland mystery” alluded to above, a case that perplexes all the governing authorities of McDonaldland despite the fact that one of its best-known citizens is actually named for his habit of committing this very crime.

The news causes a panic.

Ronald's response is to playact getting hit by a bus. Big Mac's is more upsetting: by blithely claiming “There is always plenty at McDonald's,” he demonstrates the believe-the-lie thinking often beaten into citizens of tyrannical regimes.

After happening upon a trail of hamburgers, the clown and the burger-headed constable dash across the licensed caloriescape of McDonaldland, a terrifying place where processed apple pies grow on trees and the state motto is a doctor announcing you have Type II diabetes.

They find that their friends have suffered abuses most foul:

And that's why Grimace transferred to another high school.

One dark encounter demonstrates once and for all why kids are scared of clowns:

Clues can turn up anywhere!

The book is at times informative. I mean, I had always thought “French Fry Thatch” was what you called it when a trucker wears a skirt.

Eventually, Ronald and company manage the McDonaldland version of the old Sherlock Holmes trick: once they've eliminated the impossible, they settle on the howlingly obvious. The culprit, it turns out, is the community's only Juggalo.

I think it was Rasmussen that said a majority of Americans believe that fast food mascots should have access to enhanced interrogation techniques.

Eventually, peace and the stolen property is restored. Weirdly, that stolen property — now free to be consumed by McDonaldland plutocrats — celebrates its good fortune with a unison chant.


Also, if the pharaoh's feral youth ever got a look at this book, their first word would be a shouted English “suck!”

Bonus Crap!

Hey, here's yet another godawful title from The Last Bookstore's warehouse sale a couple weeks back!

Cabbage Patch Kids: 'Kids on the Go

Date: 1997

Publisher: Modern Publishing, New York

Look, I can't even pretend to find some sociocultural justification for this one.

It's just 24 pages of computer-aided photos of those yarn-haired, melon-headed Cabbage Patch Kids enjoying every possible mode of transportation, presumably to help escape the kind of adults who collect Cabbage Patch Kids.

Even the dolls look embarrassed.

Kids are going to learn about class divisions eventually. It may as well be through terrible tie-in books:

But it's always too early to teach them about Wild Hogs.

Anyway, like I said, they probably faked these pictures:

I mean, study the shadows. Jeez.

Hey, you could do worse than following @studiesincrap on the Twitter thing.

LA Weekly