“Musings on the McRib” or “I So Wich I Didn’t Eat That”
Yesterday I was driving home from school and noticed the sign on McDonald’s announcing: “The McRib is back!”. I don’t watch TV anymore, so without proper brainwashing from the media I had almost completely forgotten about an article I read awhile back announcing the return of the sandwich to all nationwide restaurants across the nation. Apparently this is the first time in 16 years that the McRib sandwich will be available nation-wide. And after some brief research on the topic I was shocked to see just how fascinating[ly boring] the history of the McRib is.
According to wikipedia, the sandwich was introduced to the McDonald’s menu in 1981, but removed in 1985 after poor sales (except for Germany, where it sold well and is a permanent menu item). It was then intermittently brought back at random restaurants in limited release. Then in 1994 it once again saw promotional nation-wide release in conjunction with The Flintstones movie. This move was only limited, and was soon after removed from the national menu. Then in November, 2005, McDonald’s launched an ingenious marketing campaign claiming that the McRib was going to be permanently removed from the menu. They simultaneously launched this “Farewell Tour” with a petition to save the sandwich. This petition was backed by the fictitious BPFAA (Boneless Pig Farmers of America Association). Wait, it gets better. In October 2006 they released the “Farewell Tour II”, admitting the entire marketing campaign was a ploy. This was then followed by a third and fourth “Farewell” tour in October 2007 and October 2007 respectively. And now from early November to December 5th, 2010 the McRib is back nation-wide.
And thanks to this genius marketing the sandwich has taken up mythical proportions. Its limited availability has created a cult fan-base. A fan-base that’s so hungry for sauce smothered pork that it uses technology to hunt down the fantastical sandwich. The “McRib Locator” website offers addicts a tool that can help them locate the nearest McDonald’s offering the McRib. Sound ridiculous? Some fast-foodies are willing to drive up to up to 10 hours for their fix. And since the McRib’s return it has trended on the internet like never before. It has even appeared as a talking topic in legitimate news sources like the Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. The sandwich has also been lampooned by the Simpson’s– and you know you’ve made it big if you’re on the Simpsons. Indeed the sandwich has become more urban legend than edible object. And in truth the stories, the blog entries, and the pop-references will last much longer in the people’s mind than the sandwich will last in the people’s digestive tracts (much much longer for the record).
So what about the sandwich itself? Well, I hate to admit it, but I was morbidly curious and decided to commit hare-kari on my digestive tract by ordering one of those molded meat monstrosities. Granted I’ve been eating much healthier recently (cutting down on meats, cutting out preserved foods, and eating more vegetables- pretty much the opposite of the McRib) so right from the start my stomach didn’t love the experience. But stomach twitches aside, the taste was ‘meh’. It was a sub-par composite of meat covered with a barbecue-like sauce (sure, I guess you could say it was tangy. Although adjectives make it sound much fancier than it really is). I thought the raw onions over powered the taste a bit, but the pickles offered a nice counter note to the flavor. Overall not my best gastronomical experience ever. The way I feel about the McRib is the same way I feel about Peeps. Peeps are unavailable all year-round. Then at Easter you see them on the counters and buy them up, only to eat one at home and suddenly remember how completely sub-par (read: awful) they are.
In conclusion: the McRib sandwich is better to be consumed through pop-culture conversation than through the stomach.