What is it about the McRib? McDonald’s boneless pork-and-barbecue-sauce sandwich is back again, available nationwide (until November 14) for the second time in the last two years—and its return is getting the kind of media coverage that the Rolling Stones would receive if the band was going out on tour again.
You may remember when that sort of comparison was made a few years back on The Simpsons, when Homer followed the “RibWich Tour” as the spoofed sandwich made its appearances around the country. He even got ahold of an official tour jacket.
There have been many other pop culture references to the McRib, including frequent mentions on late night talk show monologues.
The McRib—a boneless pork patty made from USDA-inspected quality boneless pork, topped with slivered onions, sliced dill pickles, with signature BBQ sauce on a toasted home-style bun—seems to have a rather fanatical following across the U.S. Someone even created a McRib Locator, and when the sandwich has been away for a while, online petitions go up for its return.
There’s even a digital game, “The Quest for the Golden McRib,” on McDonald’s Facebook page. It features barbecue-loving unicorns, emo pilgrims, and Viking accountants. The chain plays up its elusiveness.
Makes you wonder why it’s not on the menu on a permanent basis. Why is it always an LTO (limited time offer)?
“The McRib has an enthusiastic and dedicated fan base,” said Marta Fearon, McDonald’s U.S. marketing director, quoted in QSR Magazine. “And we thank those customers for contributing to our decision to bring back the McRib nationwide in 2011. At this time, we can’t speculate on its return in the future but we hope McRib fans will enjoy it now while it lasts.”
I guess it’s the mystique of the McRib, with its limited, occasional availability that gives it that special allure—absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that. Or maybe there’s some kind of pork shortage we don’t know about.
In fact, originally the McRib was meant to be a regular menu fixture, but the sandwich couldn’t sustain enough sales to make McDonald’s profitability goals. When it was pulled, McRib lovers complained loudly enough that the sandwich was brought back from time to time as an LTO, and that pattern has been followed for decades.
Side note: in Germany, the McRib is a permanent menu item and has been for years.
For the rest of the McRibites out there, savor it while it’s here.
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