10 McRib Facts

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1. 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. But the one ingredient it doesn’t contain: Kangaroo meat. A persistent urban legend lingering around the interwebs says the rib-shaped patty is actually made of Australia’s famous roos. (It’s not.)

3. The McRib debuted on McDonald’s menus in 1981.

4. The sandwich 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, “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. And you can thank the Flintstones 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. But why is it shaped like that? 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 site in 2005, 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.”

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November 1, 2011 - 7:42am
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