Periodically in the history of the McDonald’s fast-food empire does the ever elusive McRib sandwich make an appearance. The sandwich was introduced in 1982 as a regular menu item. Coming in a little better than the traditional Big Mac in fat and caloric content, the sandwich is basically like a rib sandwich without the bones. The name is a little deceiving, however, as the pork patty that is the anchor of the sandwich is actually mostly cheap
pork shoulder meat, not rib meat. Introduced as a limited edition item, the McRib was actually McDonald’s brainchild to offset another invention that had flooded the market. The introduction of chicken McNuggets in 1979 was such a raging success that by 1981 McDonald’s was having trouble procuring enough chicken to meet the demands of McNugget production. To try to stem the overflow, they came up with the idea of the McRib, which tested in some markets well. However, sales were not great as the public continued to gravitate toward the McNugget. By 1985, McDonald’s determined that the American population just didn’t eat pork as often as it did beef and chicken. The McRib was discontinued on American menus, although it stayed on abroad.
Despite mediocre sales, the McRib developed a cult-like following. Even today, there are countless website devoted to bringing back the McRib full-time, the history of the elusive sandwich, and even a website completely revolving around helping people find McDonald’s locations that are serving the sandwich. To stoke the fire, McDonald’s occasionally brings the McRib back nationwide from time to time. The McRib is available all over the United States right now for the first time since 1994. McDonald’s says that sales are on fire, but they hold fast that the McRib will once again go the way of the dinosaur on November 11, 2011.
There are all sort of conspiracy theory concoctions out there for why the legendary fast food chain refuses to bring the McRib back all the time, even in the face of consumer outrage and begging. However, the truth is not all that sinister. “Bringing it back every so often adds to the excitement,” said Marta Fearon, McDonald’s U.S. marketing director. They don’t even do it yearly or seasonally like some products do. They literally skip years or even decades before bringing the McRib back. Why? Conspiracy? No, they just like to create a buzz. And when you are a dominating force like McDonald’s has been for so long, you can afford to wait years before you create your next one. But isn’t that in itself a conspiracy? The conspiracy of McDonald’s to deprive legions of McRib fans from the treasure they seek?
Sometimes it is what it is. The conspiracy exists because people love to talk about conspiracies. And when the McRib does come around, the world rejoices.
For the record, when the McRib was introduced back in 1982, it became immensely popular in Germany. The McRib has continuously been a staple item on the German McDonald’s menu. That’s right, there has never been a moment since 1982 where a fellow can’t get a McRib in Germany at any McDonald’s location. So, the next time you’re on the hunt for a McRib, just grab a charter plane and head overseas. The McRib is always out there on the horizon.