By Jeff Girod
Like Brett Favre in yet another Wrangler commercial, the McDonald’s McRib is back, baby, and better than ever! Actually the McRib is exactly the same. In fact, these might be the very same pressed-pork-patty sandwiches McDonald’s was precooking way back in 1994, the last time the McRib was officially offered in all McDonald’s restaurants nationwide. Seriously, I’m not sure the McRib even has to be refrigerated. I just found one under my sofa cushion next to my Sony Discman and Boyz II Men CD.
Granted, there have been regional McRib comebacks before. There was a McRib Farewell Tour, which circled the nation in 2005. And who could forget the McRib Farewell Tour II in 2006? Or what about the epic McRib Farewell Tour III in 2007? (There was a fourth McRib tour in 2008, but by then my doctor advised me that my cholesterol was nearing quadruple digits and my lower intestine had sealed shut with a mysterious barbecue paste.)
It’s best not to think too much about what’s in a McRib because it only costs about $2. Two dollars! As a rule, no meat product should ever go in your mouth that costs the equivalent of a scratcher ticket. Then again, if you’ve ever eaten a McRib during a long car ride, it is a little like playing the lottery.
But who are we kidding? It’s called the McRib, not the McSirloin. This is McDonald’s, remember, where not even the orange drink contains real oranges. You paid $2 for that McRib and that includes onions, pickles and barbecue sauce—not to mention a sesame seed bun, McRib packaging and the labor it takes to place the entire thing inside a McMicrowave. So after all that, how much do you actually think McDonald’s spends on ensuring the quality of its rib meat?
I don’t think it’s even accurate to label it “rib meat” because there are no actual ribs in a McRib. Though it’s shaped like it contains bones. That means somewhere in the dark recesses of a McDonald’s laboratory, some poor bastard on a stepladder has to stir a giant vat of hot McStew, pouring gristly mash into cookie cutter shapes like little meat snicker doodles. You’re probably thinking, “Ooh, gross!” But, c’mon, how can you possibly be surprised? The order counter is adjacent to a PlayPlace. Half of the food menu comes with plastic toys. We’re talking about the same restaurant that gave us the Hamburglar and Grimace for mascots and never anticipated that they might literally scare the crap out of toddlers.
Eat too many McRibs and you might start talking like the Hamburglar, or get all sticky and bumpy like a McRib patty—which would explain why McDonald’s periodically takes the McRib out of circulation. And speaking of circulation, it’s why anyone who professes their undying love for the McRib is usually sporting a pair of Grimace-sized sweat pants and can’t feel their purple hands and feet. But at the same time, the folks who operate McDonald’s are evil marketing geniuses because even they realize what a hideous Franken-product they’ve concocted.
So like a carefully cropped Match.com photo so blurry the lens must be smeared with special sauce, McDonald’s periodically “discontinues” the McRib to conceal its less than Grade-A features. So what if it has the taste and consistency of eating Ronald Mcdonald’s big red shoe? It’s only back for a limited time! Put on your Grimace sweat pants and grab your car keys! We can’t waste time worrying about things like quality and flavor. And we certainly can’t pause to consider that the McRib contains 26 grams of fat or that you can get the same infinitely chewy sandwich from every school cafeteria everywhere.
I love fast food as much as the next wheezing, desperate slob, but let’s have some standards. You’re better than a $2 fake rib sandwich. You want something delicious? Go to In-N-Out and order a Double-Double. They’ve been making hamburgers fresh since 1948, and they don’t rely on some peek-a-boo marketing gimmick from a sinister clown to stir up interest.
And take it from Boyz II Men, that’s the kind of advice that never goes out of style.
Contact Jeff Girod at firstname.lastname@example.org.