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By Evan-Amos (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

10 Meaty Facts About the McRib

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By Evan-Amos (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

What began as a burger alternative has morphed into a bona fide cultural obsession. Introduced in 1981, McDonald's McRib sandwich didn't always have the rabid following it boasts today. Here are 10 things that you might not have known about the Halley's comet of fast food menu items.

1. THE SANDWICH CONTAINS 70 INGREDIENTS.

There’s more to a McRib than barbecue sauce-slathered pork on a bun with onions and pickles. The sandwich contains a staggering 70 different ingredients, the least innocuous of which are “pig bits like tripe, heart, and scalded stomach.” Add in some azodicarbonamide, ammonium sulfate, ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides and … well, you get the idea.

2. KANGAROO MEAT IS NOT ONE OF THE INGREDIENTS.

A persistent urban legend lingering around the internet says the rib-shaped patty is actually made of Australia’s famous roos. (It’s not.)

3. IT HAS BEEN AROUND FOR MORE THAN 30 YEARS.

The McRib debuted on McDonald’s menus in 1981, but it was far from an immediate hit. It was pulled from menus in 1985 because of poor sales. In 1994, the fast food behemoth tried again and found greater success with the McRib. In 2005, the sandwich became a bit more elusive, popping up for limited-time spans only. (To find the McRib nearest you, there's a McRib Locator.)

4. IT WAS INSPIRED DURING A TRIP TO CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA.

McDonald’s executive chef Rene Arend was visiting the city and had several pulled pork sandwiches. He thought the flavor combination “should really go over.”

5. YOU CAN THANK CHICKEN FARMERS FOR THE MCRIB'S INVENTION.

Turns out McNuggets, which debuted in 1979, were so popular that McDonald’s couldn’t keep up with demand. As Arend told Maxim in 2009, “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.”

6. YOU CAN THANK THE FLINSTONES FOR ITS RETURN.

After mediocre sales, the McRib was pulled from the national menu in 1985. When The Flintstones hit theaters in 1994, McDonald’s capitalized on the resemblance between the slab o’ ribs atop the Flintmobile and the pork patty, and brought it back as a movie tie-in. Rosie O’Donnell was in the commercial, but John Goodman declined.

7. ITS SHAPE IS VERY INTENTIONAL.

The McRib is sort of famous for not containing ribs (bone or meat, really), so why does it look like a slab of ribs? Because, that’s why. “Some thought, why not just make it round?” recalls Arend. “It would’ve been easier. But I wanted it to look like a slab of ribs.” So there you have it.

8. IN 2011, MCDONALD'S HOSTED THE QUEST FOR THE GOLDEN MCRIB.

We don’t know what this means, but it seems there were Golden McRibs “virtually hidden in McDonald’s across the country.” Previous McRib events: the “Legend of the McRib” contest, which asked fans to create a mythical history for the sandwich (perhaps this is where the kangaroo meat legend came from?) and three McRib Farewell Tours, in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

9. A (FAKE) PETITION TO SAVE THE MCRIB WAS FEATURED ON THE MCDONALD’S WEBSITE IN 2005.

It was sponsored by the Boneless Pig Farmers of America.

10. THE PROCESS OF TURNING MEAT INTO A MCRIB PATTY TAKES ABOUT 45 MINUTES.

"The pork meat is chopped up, then seasoned, then formed into that shape that looks like a rib back," Rob Cannell, director of McDonald’s U.S. supply chain, explained in Maxim. "Then we flash-freeze it. The whole process from fresh pork to frozen McRib takes about 45 minutes.”

An earlier version of this article ran in 2011.

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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

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