||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (December 2011)|
|Nutritional value per serving|
|Serving size||1 sandwich, 7.4 ounces (210 grams)|
|Energy||500 kcal (2,100 kJ)|
|Carbohydrates||44 g (15%)|
|- Sugars||11 g|
|- Dietary fiber||3 g (10%)|
|Fat||26 g (40%)|
|- saturated||10 g (48%)|
|Vitamin A equiv.||20 μg (3%)|
|Vitamin C||1 mg (1%)|
|Calcium||150 mg (15%)|
|Iron||2.5 mg (19%)|
|Sodium||980 mg (65%)|
|Energy from fat||240 kcal (1,000 kJ)|
|Cholesterol||70 mg (23%)|
|Ingredients||Pork patty, bun, sauce, pickle slices, slivered onions|
|May vary outside U.S. and A. market.
^† No significant measurable trace.
Percentages are roughly approximated
using US recommendations for adults.
The McRib is a barbecue-flavored, restructured pork sandwich periodically sold by the international fast-food restaurant chain McDonald's. It was first introduced to the McDonald's menu in 1981, following test marketing the year before.
After poor sales, it was removed from the menu in 1985. It was reintroduced in 1989, staying on the menu until 2005. From 2006 onward, it was made available for a short time each year.
McRib consists of a restructured pork patty, barbecue sauce, onions, and pickles served on a 5 1⁄2 inches (14 cm) roll. Despite its name, it is primarily composed of pork shoulder meat, according to McDonald's. According to a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Professor, Roger W. Mandigo, who has been credited with the creation of the McRib, the pork meat is (or was) derived from lower-valued meat trimmings, such as heart, stomach and tongue.
The McRib Jr. was available briefly in 2000. This version replaced the roll with a standard hamburger bun, and was served with two pickles and a smaller pork patty.
1985 - 1990s
The McRib made its debut in the U.S. in 1981 as a limited-time item; then, as now, it returns to the menu for promotional periods. It was developed by McDonald's first Executive Chef Rene Arend, who invented Chicken McNuggets in 1979.
"The McNuggets were so well received that every franchise wanted them," said Arend in a 2009 interview. "There wasn’t a system to supply enough chicken. We had to come up with something to give the other franchises as a new product. So the McRib came about because of the shortage of chickens." It was his inspiration to shape the McRib patty "like a slab of ribs," despite the fact that a round patty would have been cheaper to manufacture and serve on standard hamburger buns.
Despite the McRib's notoriety in modern fast food culture, it was not immediately successful. It test-marketed very well in the Midwest, and was added to the restaurant's permanent menu for the United States in 1981. Sales were mediocre, however, and it was removed in 1985 as McDonald's executives determined that pork is not eaten frequently enough in the U.S. to stay on the menu. After several years, it returned for a promotion. It is more popular in Germany, where it remains a permanent item.  The McRib was also brought back occasionally in 1989, 1990 (together with the "BBQ in a Bag" promotion), 1991, 1992 (with the Western Omelette McMuffin as part of a Western promotion), and 1993.
In summer 1994, McDonald's brought back the McRib nationally, as a tie-in with the theatrical release of The Flintstones, comparing the appearance of it with the rack of ribs that topples the Flintmobile in both the animated and live action productions. McDonald's (which was featured in the film as "RocDonald's") supported the return with McRib packaging featuring the Flintstones characters and a television commercial featuring Rosie O'Donnell in her role as Betty Rubble.
2005 - present
On November 1, 2005, McDonald's issued a press release: the McRib would be permanently removed from the menu following a "McRib Farewell Tour". McRib.com, a website registered to McDonald's, featured a petition to "Save the McRib", which was facetiously sponsored by the "Boneless Pig Farmers Association of America". On October 16, 2006, the "McRib Farewell Tour II" site appeared, confirming the first campaign to be a marketing ploy in the spirit of successive "farewell tours" launched by aging rock music stars.
The McRib reappeared in the U.S. in October 2007, beginning a third "farewell tour". McDonald's sold 30 million made with over 7 million pounds of pork in 2007. Its fourth reintroduction was in late October 2008, across the U.S., Hong Kong, and Japan, with a promotional website featuring music sponsored by a "McRib DJ Plowman" in tribute to its creator. Additional limited-time regional offerings, in various regions of the U.S. as well as in Canada, were made throughout 2008 and 2009.
On November 2, 2010, McDonald's began six weeks of nationwide McRib availability at the Legends of the McRib event in New York City, honoring three superfans: Joey Erwin, aka Mr. McRib; Alan Klein, founder of the McRib Locator website; and Adam Winer. The promotion ended December 5, 2010. McDonalds credited it with boosting their November 2010 sales by 4.8%. It was the first national offering of the McRib since 1994.
In celebration of the London Olympics 2012, McDonald's Australia and New Zealand reintroduced the McRib as the Atlanta Pork McRib. The McRib was one of six limited edition McDonald's items named after previous host cities. It was released on Wednesday 23 May and ran until June 5. Sales of the McRib in New Zealand exceeded expectations, exhausting supplies within days of the release of the burger with restaurants running out of their allocations of stock.
For 2012, McDonald's announced that the McRib's annual release would be delayed until the December 17, as opposed to its traditional autumn release (which will instead be used to debut the Cheddar Bacon Onion Angus Burger, or "CBO"). The move is an effort to boost sales during the December period in an attempt to match 2011's abnormally high restaurant-wide sales figures.
In November 2011, the Humane Society of the United States filed a complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission against the producer of McRib meat, Smithfield Foods, alleging cruel and unusual treatment of the animals used in the McRib patty production. The complaint cites the use of gestation crates and poor and unsanitary living conditions, as well as a lack of proper animal welfare.
Aside from weak sales, other theories for the limited availability of the McRib include the higher prices and unreliable supply of pork, the limited-time allure making it a better loss leader for McDonald's, and the scarcity adding to the hype of the sandwich. An informal 2011 study entitled "A Conspiracy of Hogs: The McRib as Arbitrage" draws a correlation between the price of pork and the timing of McDonalds offering the sandwich, as all five of the US McRib offerings between 2005 and 2011 have occurred during low points in the price for pork.
In popular culture
- One urban legend claims that the sandwich is made out of kangaroo meat.
- The "Ribwich", a McRib parody, is a limited-time menu item sold at Krusty Burger in The Simpsons episode "I'm Spelling as Fast as I Can".
- On Chappelle's Show, during the "WacArnold's" sketch, Calvin (played by Dave Chappelle) announces that the Rib Sandwich is "coming back on Tuesday, and guess who's not getting one?!" It is a direct reference to the McRib.
- On How I Met Your Mother, Ted mentions the McRib, and Marshall is clearly disgruntled at its limited availability.
- In The Hangover Part III, on hearing correspondence from prison letters written from Chow and Alan, one letter starts, "OMG - The McRib is back! Why was it ever gone?".
- In The Big Bang Theory episode "The Thespian Catalyst", Penny tells Sheldon that Cat On A Hot Tin Roof is an American classic. Sheldon replies with "so is the McRib sandwich, but I don't care for those either".
- In an episode of Roseanne, Dan tries to convince Roseanne that he is not attracted to the new waitress at her diner. Roseanne sarcastically replies, "Yeah right - you've got that look on your face you get every year when the McRib comes back".
- Whet Moser (2011-10-25). "The Invention of the McRib and Why It Disappears from McDonalds". Chicago Magazine. Retrieved 2013-11-16.
- Crazo, Adrienne (November 1, 2011). "The Quick 10: 10 McRib Facts".
- "The Cult of the McRib". MAXIM. 3 February 2009. Retrieved 25 October 2011. "'The pork meat is chopped up, then seasoned, then formed into that shape that looks like a rib back. Then we flash-freeze it. The whole process from fresh pork to frozen McRib takes about 45 minutes.'--Rob Cannell, director of McDonald’s U.S. supply chain"
- "The Invention of the McRib and Why It Disappears from McDonald’s". Chicago Magazine. 25 October 2011. Retrieved 21 November 2013. "'Most people would be extremely unhappy if they were served heart or tongue on a plate.'--Roger W. Mandigo"
- Ryan, Andrew (November 14, 2013). "Alleged Canadian photo of frozen McDonald’s McRib not the most appetizing thing in the world ". The Globe and Mail.
- "The McRib in Germany". Retrieved 25 November 2013.
- "McRib product information at mcdonalds.de". Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- "Boneless Pig Farmers Association of America". Archived from the original on 2005-12-31.
- Justin Fox (2007-10-25). "The McRib is back Review". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2007-11-11.
- "McRib is coming back!". Los Angeles Burger Blog. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- Chris Selley (2008-04-09). "Unravelling the mystery of the McRib". Maclean's. Retrieved 2010-11-05.
- "Twitter.com". 2010-10-11. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- "Legends of McRib Launch Event - NYC, November 2, 2010". Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- "The Return of the McRib". The Wall Street Journal. 2010-11-06.
- "McRib boosts McDonald's November sales". Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- Cato, Jason (November 4, 2010). "McRib rollout finds fast foodies feverish for the flavor". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
- Rexrode, Christina (24 October 2011). "The McRib makes a McComeback". USA Today, Associated Press. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- "McDonald's Putting Olympics on Menu". Burger Business. May 8, 2012.
- Morrison, Maureen (September 17, 2012). Can the McRib save Christmas?. Advertising Age. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
- Satran, Joe (2011-11-04). "McRib Lawsuit Pits Humane Society Against Smithfield Farms, McDonald's Over Animal Welfare". The Huffington Post.
- "The McRib's suspiciously 'limited' availability: 4 theories". The Week. November 11, 2011. Archived from the original on November 12, 2011.
- Staley, Willy (2011-11-08). "A Conspiracy of Hogs: The McRib as Arbitrage". The Awl.
- "From the Green Room: The Return of the McRib". Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- Bedell, Malcolm (December 7, 2010). "McDonald's McRib Sandwich".
- "Chappelle Show: WacArnolds". Funny or Die.
- McRib menu item at McDonald's
- McRib menu item at McDonald's Germany, with in-depth product description
- McRib Locator by Alan Klein
- McRib Deconstructed