Luke McCabe

The McRib is not a seasonal dish, rather a cheap publicity tactic

After years of anticipation, McDonald’s finally re-introduced their hot menu item known as the McRib, effective Dec. 2. For the first time since 2012, the McRib was served in an effort to allay the 2020 year of disappointment and pandemic fear. 

In an effort to better understand the hype, I journeyed to my local McDonald’s drive-through to try it during my break. After placing my order and waiting behind a few cars, who it seemed were waiting for the same McRib experience as I was, I received my sandwich complete with, as Homer Simpson put it, “a patty made from the ribs of God.” I was so excited to taste it. 

I hate to disagree with Homer Simpson, but after tasting the processed pork sub complete with pickles, onions and McDonald’s tangy BBQ sauce, I was left disappointed. The McRib sandwich is exactly what we all thought it was: a mediocre meal whose only appeal is the mystery and scarcity that surrounds it. The overprocessed slab of pork, which oddly resembled a real rack of bone-in ribs, was disconcerting, especially after researching the questionable meat restructuring process that forms the patty. To make it worse, the sandwich is drenched in sauce which causes the bun, and the minimal amount of napkins I was given, to get soggy and gross. 

However what interested me most about the sandwich was the odd habit of showing up for a few years and then being whisked away only to make another grand return, so I did some research. The McRib was introduced in 1981 and re-introduced in 1989, 2005, 2012 and 2020 in countries around the world, and many of these re-introductions have occurred during a period of low pork prices. McDonald’s claims that the McRib is a seasonal commodity due to its decreasing marginal utility, but RestFinance found that the 2005 and 2012 McRib “comebacks” occurred after 15 percent drops in pork prices over short periods of time. This indicates that the McRib is exactly what we thought it to be. A cash grab that waits for Americans to forget how mediocre the McRib is.

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