A Holiday Gift: McDonald’s McRib Returns to the East End

McRib sandwich from McDonald's
McRib sandwich from McDonald’s

Perhaps more exciting to some than Santa’s annual appearance, the equally beloved and elusive McRib sandwich returned to McDonald’s restaurants nationwide this week.

The boneless pork sandwich featuring a scrumptious combination of barbecue sauce, pickles and onion, was first introduced to the McDonald’s menu in 1982. It was removed from the menu three years later because of poor sales, but eventually the McRib endured.

The sandwich made a triumphant return in 1989 and became an overnight star in the McDonald’s lineup. McRib enjoyed years of success, but the mob can be fickle, and sometimes too much of a good thing is just too much. Sales dwindled once more in the new millennium, and sadly, McRib was benched again in 2005.

Realizing they took the McDonald’s pressed pork delight for granted, a nation of diners mourned.

That is, until the following year when a genius in the Micky D’s marketing department decided to give the people what they want and bring McRib back yet again. Only this time, for its third outing, McRib would only appear for a limited time.

Now the sandwich would only be available for three to six-week stints and it would never be underappreciated again.

A few facts about the McRib have been circling the internet since the sandwich launched its brief 2012 tour on Monday, December 17.

The Goodness

According to various trusted sources (primarily Wikipedia), McDonald‘s first Executive Chef Rene Arend designed McRib’s winning combo of pork, pickles, onions and barbecue sauce on a 5.5-inch roll. Arend also created Chicken McNuggets in 1979.

The Science

Yahoo finance shared that the McRib is a product of “restructured meat technology,” designed by University of Nebraska professor Richard Mandigo. He made the magic boneless meat with a “mixture of tripe, heart and scalded stomach, which is then mixed with salt and water to extract proteins from the muscle. Proteins hold the pork trimmings together so they can form any shape, such as a slab of ribs.

The Contents

While McRib appears simple enough—restructured meat technology notwithstanding—Time magazine reported that it is actually made up of 70 ingredients, including a flour bleaching agent called azodicarbonamide, which is used to produce foamed plastics for gym mats and shoes. This substance is banned as a food additive in Europe and Australia.

The Numbers

McRib has 500 calories, 26 grams of fat, 44 grams of carbohydrates and 980 milligrams of sodium.


The McRib had a “McRib Farewell Tour” before being pulled from the McDonald’s menu in 2005. The “McRib Farewell Tour II” site appeared in October 2006 and a third “farewell tour” began the following year in October of 2007.

This year, McRib was originally scheduled to be available at McDonald’s restaurants from October 22 to November 11, but the fast food giant changed the dates to begin this week. It should be available nationwide until around the middle of January.

Get one while you can.

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