Food by VICE

McDonald's Apologizes for, Removes Halloween Decorations That Look Like a Lynching

Each cash register was decorated with a jack o'lantern, a giant spider, and... the silhouette of a man hanging from a tree.

by Jelisa Castrodale
Oct 31 2019, 6:40pm

Photo: Getty Images

Earlier this week, McDonald's posted a number of "Halloween Menu Hacks" that its customers can make at home, but only if they order McDelivery through Uber Eats. "By combining McDonald’s delivery favorites with items you already have at home, it’s never been more convenient to create fun, themed treats," the company said, before legit writing step-by-step directions for using two French fries to make vampire fangs.

Some of its other high-concept ideas involve combining barbecue sauce and ranch dressing in a bowl, dipping apple slices into a McFlurry, and failing to understand what a menu hack really is. As dumb as this all is, at least it's completely inoffensive, which is more than anyone can say about the decorations inside one of its Massachusetts restaurants.

Last week, Erik Pocock was placing an order at the McDonald's in North Andover, Massachusetts when he noticed that the area below each cash register had been decorated for the holiday. He saw a mildly malevolent jack o'lantern, a giant spider suspended by a single thread… and the silhouette of a man hanging from a tree.

"It looked like a typical Halloween decoration. It said ‘Happy Halloween.’ It had some spiderwebs and some spiders and, like, a haunted tree and I was like: ‘Oh, that’s cute,’” he told WCVB. “Then, you look closer and that’s not cute. That’s not right.”

He recorded a video of the hanging man and posted it on Twitter, and asked the @McDonalds account to "explain this." (He has since made his account private.) Pocock believed that the decorations could be interpreted as a lynching, and as being racially insensitive. "Any hatred towards any race or any person is just extremely unacceptable, especially for a large establishment like McDonald’s,” he said.

Some customers agreed with him. "That’s not a friendly Halloween thing,” a customer named Stephan Long told WHDH. “That’s kind of a nasty Halloween thing.” When a WCVB reporter posted a picture of the decoration on Twitter, the responses ranged from "definitely not appropriate" and "extremely offensive" to the repeated assertion that if it's for Halloween, then it just can't be problematic. (And a man whose bio reads "Sure do love that Trump," wrote that the customer complaints were "the beginning of the war on Halloween.")

Regardless, the owner and operator of that restaurant removed the decoration, and apologized in a statement. "We deeply regret that these decorations were on display, and as soon as we identified the inappropriate content, we immediately removed the decorations display," Chuck Lietz said. "Creating an environment that is welcoming and inclusive to all our guests and employees is critically important to us, and we apologize for any unintended offense they may have had on our community."

Maybe stick to pumpkins and French fry fangs from now on, yeah?

Fast Food