Friday, October 18, 2019

The Return of the McRib

You never know when horror will strike.

Recently I was minding my own business, driving down the road. I was having a pretty good day, and life was treating me well. But then, I saw it. My mood immediately changed. A sick feeling hit me in the pit of my stomach. I started to sweat, and my skin went clammy. I thought about stopping to catch my breath, but decided it would be better to just press forward and get as far away from it as I could.

I looked again to make sure I had seen what I thought I had. It was true. The sign had nothing on it but the three words sure to strike terror in the hearts of all people with good taste:

"McRib Is Back."

Thanks for the warning!

There are a lot of things in this world that I don't understand, and the existence of the McRib is one of them. What exactly is a McRib? Back in 2015 I turned to the McDonald's website on the interwebs to find out. At the top of the McRib page it said:

What's in your McRib patty?

Then, it answered it's own question with this:

Pork! Our McRib patty starts with ground pork from the pork shoulder.

The first thing that stands out to me here is that they say "Pork!" like we'll actually be surprised that it contains meat. It's as if they're saying, "Ha! You probably didn't think there was real meat in this thing, did you? Well, there is! It's pork!!!"

Then there's the second, and probably more important thing that stands out about their statement: "ground pork from the pork shoulder." Now, I'll admit that I may not be as familiar with pig anatomy as maybe I could be, but I'm thinking that the pork shoulder is not actually located in the rib. I know enough about human anatomy to know that my rib and my shoulder are not exactly the same thing. They're not even particularly close. So, I suspect that the same is true for the pig.

The next, obvious, point is: If it's made from the shoulder, not the rib, shouldn't it be called the "McShoulder?" I think "McRib" seems a bit deceptive, doesn't it? It's not made from the rib! (Maybe they should just call it "McPork." Or, maybe not.)

I'm not sure how they can call it "McRib" if it's not actually made from the rib. It's like how they can call their chicken sandwich a "McChicken," because it is made from chicken parts, but they can't call it a "McBreast" if it's not made out of chicken breast. (Of course, there are probably other reasons why they shouldn't use the name "McBreast," but I won't go into that here.)

Unfortunately, there's still one more thing that stands out from the McDonald's statement. They say, "Our McRib starts with ground pork…." Starts? So, apparently there is more to the McRib than just ground pork from the pork shoulder. Yes, there is. McDonald's continues:

A little salt, water and dextrose (a type of sugar made from corn), are added to help the patty maintain its McRib shape and preserve its flavor. Finally, we add a small amount of preservatives — BHA, Propyl Gallate and Citric Acid, which help maintain taste.

The scary things about this statement are how it throws around words like "flavor" and "taste" as if they apply to the McRib. Having personally "tasted" the "flavor" of the McRib, I'm not sure that these concepts actually exist. 

The important thing that these added ingredients really do is "help the patty maintain its McRib shape." Because isn't the fact that it's shaped like a rib the most important thing about a McRib? Without its "McRib shape" it's just another slab of pork shoulder and preservatives warmed up and slapped on a bun.

The McRib sounds like it should be good. Ribs, slathered in tasty barbecue sauce and made into a sandwich? It sounds great! Unfortunately, they are not ribs, and the barbecue sauce is not tasty. I'm not even sure it qualifies as food. I don't understand why, after trying it once, anyone would ever attempt to eat another McRib.

Maybe we just need to get the word out: It's not really a McRib, it's a McShoulder. Because I don't think we'd ever see a McDonald's sign loudly proclaiming: "McShoulder Is Back!"

Edited from a post originally published on 9/22/2015.

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