Did Don Draper invent Grimace in 1971 to help the Mets in 2024? An investigation

The Mets were a hapless mess of an organization until Grimace came into their lives. The husky blob of unknown density arrived at Citi Field to throw out the first pitch on June 12, and since the team has gone 9-and-2 — now in legitimate striking distance of grabbing a wild card.

Everyone has wondered how the hell Grimace has been able to turn the Mets around. More importantly: Why Grimace? What if I told you that this was a plan 53-years in the making, all set into motion by Don Draper of Mad Men fame in an effort to help his beloved team win before his 100th birthday?


Don Draper is a die-hard Mets fan

This is established throughout Mad Men. The Mets are a fundamental piece of Don’s identity, which establishes him as a modern man who has no particular reverence for the past, which is why he supports the upstart Metropolitans over the historic and vaunted Yankees.

A Mets pennant is a proudly displayed part of Don’s office, and remains a feature of the show until late in the series. The last we see Don’s allegiance to the Mets he finds the pennant under an old desk, electing to throw it out — but as we’ll come to realize it’s a love that never dies.


There are some Mad Men spoilers coming up, but at this point the finale was in 2015. You’ve had more than enough time to watch Mad Men.

Don Draper, Coca-Cola, and Grimace

The series finale of Mad Men left with Don finally finding the inner-peace that alluded him throughout the series. More importantly to the tale of Grimace and the Mets, it establishes that Don came up with the groundbreaking “Buy the world a Coke” campaign, which reshaped advertising in 1971, and is one of the most influential commercials of all time.

This tells us that Don was back on top in 1971. He didn’t leave the ad game, but instead rose like a phoenix to deliver the best work of his life after getting his own like in order. Now, it’s not difficult to imagine that after reshaping Coca-Cola he wouldn’t have landed another massive account to guide them into the future: McDonald’s.

When was Grimace created? You guessed it… 1971. The same year as the Coca-Cola campaign. But this goes so much deeper.

Debuting as “The Evil Grimace,” the initial portrayal of Grimace was as an evil entity who stole all the cups from McDonald’s to prevent children from getting … you guessed it: Coke.

See, Grimace was the part of Don’s psyche he left behind. The negative energy that he jettisoned. If the new, enlightened Don Draper wants to buy the world a Coke, the old Draper wanted to horde all the cups to himself and prevent the world from having Coca-Cola.

Don created “The Evil Grimace” to be the precise counterpoint to the last image we have of him from Mad Men — smiling. Then, in 1972 Grimace is re-introduced as Ronald’s best friend, and not a bad guy anymore. This was Don telling the world that he had changed. That he was different. That he was a happy, contributing member of society.

There are more hints of Draper’s involvement in McDonald’s too

Draper creates Grimace in 1971 and continues to work on the McDonald’s account, pulling more and more examples from his own life into the ad campaigns.

  • Hamburglar is a manifestation of Peggy Olson, created in 1971. With red hair and prominent teeth, Draper posits that Hamburglar is both mischievous and lovable, while also stealing the literal heart of out McDonald’s by taking their hamburgers. This is a metaphor for how Peggy ripped Don’s heart out, and he never recovered.
  • The Fry Kids from 1972 represent Don’s children.
  • Birdie is introduced in 1980, named after Don’s nickname for his ex-wife Betty. The full name “Birdie, the early bird” is a scathing critique of Betty’s self-absorption and his resentment at how self-reliant his children needed to be to support their mother’s life of sloth.
  • Mayor McCheese represents Bert Cooper, while Officer Big Mac is Roger Sterling — for obvious reasons.

How do the Mets fit into all this?

The number 100 is key to all of this. Don, despite being such a die-hard Mets fan, endured four consecutive 100-loss seasons from 1962-to-1965. When Draper was in his prime, the Mets were disgustingly awful — and yet he remained a fan.

Draper’s beloved team finally managed to win in 1969, but at that point Don was too far in the depths of despair and alcoholism to truly enjoy it. By the time he got his life back on track (and created Grimace) in 1971, the Mets had firmly become a middling team, which was present for most of his life.

There was only one World Series that Don truly got to enjoy in 1986. This coincided with Grimace’s rise to popularity, in which Grimace’s universe was expanded to highlight his family. It’s here that Draper, now aged 61 is coming to terms with his own mortality and wanting to wind down his advertising career by showing that family is important.

The “Grimace Shake” unveiled by McDonald’s on June 12, 2023 to commemorate the character’s birthday means inherently that the shake is there to celebrate Don’s birthday. HE. IS. GRIMACE. The two are one in the same.

Fast-forward to 2024

It is established in Mad Men that Draper was born in 1925, and we now know his full birthday is June 12, 1925. This is significant because 2024 is the last season the Mets can win the World Series before Don turns 100, a chance to exorcise the memories of those horrible 100-loss season where it all began, a chance to experience some sporting joy before he shifts off this mortal coil.

Don calls in a favor. He tells McDonald’s to dispatch Grimace to the Mets. Don is too old and frail to make it to Queens in person, but Grimace will be his spiritual medium to help the team in their time of need.

Grimace throws out the pitch on June 12, 2024 — Don’s 99th birthday. He witnesses as the team begins to turn it around and become relevant once more. The man who bought the world a Coke has now thrown the Mets a bone.

As an inside joke both McDonald’s at the Mets poke fun at Don’s womanizing past by having Grimace hit on Mrs. Met, and post it on social media.

Don Draper created Grimace as an extension of himself, and now Grimace is helping the Mets achieve what was previously thought impossible. It’s all because of one advertising executive and his checkered past.

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