Brian Bates, who has worked for the chain for 10 years, casually dropped it into an interview with CBC News over the weekend.
“He is an enormous taste bud, but a taste bud nonetheless,” Bates told the network in an “unofficial” explanation. “The character was meant to show that the food tastes good.”
McDonald’s has been unusually tight-lipped about the purple creature’s origins over the years. The closest it had come to providing an explanation was a few variations of this tweet sent out from time to time in response to inquisitive customers: “Great question! #Grimace lore says he is the embodiment of a milkshake or a taste bud. What do you think?”
Grimace, who was actually a villain early on, doesn’t resemble a milkshake. But he does kind of look like he may have been inspired by images of taste buds and papillae.