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The McRib sandwich: deception in a bun

The sauce is obviously there to hide the texture of the meat, which I found to be an uncomfortable degree of squishy.


Okay, I did it. The other day, I broke down and had a McRib. Yup, the McDonald’s sandwich that is supposedly made of… uh, ribs.

For the past few months, I’d seen the posters and billboards proclaiming that, “McRib is back!” Having been conditioned over the years to think that when something “is back,” it must also carry with it the implicit addendum of “by popular demand,” how could I possibly resist? I just happened to be walking by a McDonald’s when I decided to take the plunge. Let’s face it: eating a McRib is always a spur-of-the-moment decision.

I should mention this wasn’t my first McRib, although it may as well have been. It made its debut way back in 1981, so I doubtlessly had one then, when I was seven. A child’s tastes obviously differ considerably from an adult’s, but even still, there was something deep in my subconscious that told me I wouldn’t like it. I guess even at seven I could recognize bad food.

And the McRib is bad, on many levels. First, there’s the appearance. If you look at the, uh, meat, it has bone-shaped protrusions molded into it, so as to make it look like proper ribs. Except the sandwich is boneless. Worse still, if you look at the bottom side of the meat… no protrusions! In effect, it’s a half-illusion.

It’s tough to get over this particular sleight-of-food. Why does McDonald’s go through the trouble of trying to make its sandwich look like ribs? How many people have gingerly bitten into it expecting bones, only to be kind of turned off when they found none? Also, if it doesn’t actually have ribs, why is it called a McRib? If McDonald’s simply wanted to add a pork sandwich to the menu, couldn’t they have skipped the fake bones and just called it a McPork or McPig or something similar?

Then there’s the taste of the sandwich. Or more accurately, the taste of the barbecue sauce. Everything else—the bun, the pickle, the onion, the, ahem, ribs—is irrelevant. It’s all barbecue sauce. If you took a bar of soap or a lump of cardboard, drowned it in barbecue sauce and then ate it, congratulations—you may as well have consumed a McRib. The sauce is obviously there to hide the texture of the meat, which I found to be an uncomfortable degree of squishy.

So, to summarize: the McRib turned out to be a flop in appearance, taste and texture. Not surprisingly, it periodically disappears from McDonald’s menu only to eventually come back—not because of popular demand, but only when people have forgotten just how bad it is.

Regular readers know I love trying fast-food monstrosities. Aside from paragliding, it’s the one extreme sport I occasionally engage in. I won’t, however, be eating the McRib again. It’s no wonder the sandwich was the most mocked and derided fast-food creation in history, until of course the KFC Double Down came along.