Permalink to The McRib: A Free Market Love Story

The McRib: A Free Market Love Story

 

A student sent me this important news, the most important he had ever shared with me. And I share his joy:

Prepare yourselves: the McRib is coming back!

The barbecue sandwich, which has developed a cult, is making its way back to McDonald’s restaurants all over the country in a mere two weeks, the company announced on Monday.

The sandwich was originally scheduled to burst back onto the fast food scene on Oct. 22, but the McPowers that be decided to hold the McRib’s temporary comeback until December to help four[th]-quarter sales.

At last. I had my first McRib in New Jersey, on the way from Philadelphia to Long Beach Island — the one hit hard by Hurricane Sandy — in the early 1980s. It was a revelation. It was a sweet, spicy, pork product, with the sourness of the pickle and onion. It was like Spam, but better. And the fact that it was shaped like a rib sandwich somehow made it more credible than McNuggets.

Perhaps there is a larger free market story here. The food police may have banned shark fin soup and geese liver in San Francisco, and large sodas in New York, but they have yet to ban the McRib. Even though it is equally strange, artificial, and bad for your health, it is what the market demands. Only McDonald’s, for marketing reasons unknown, forces us to wait at random intervals. But far better for McDonald’s and its customers to make that decision than mayors and governors.

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Members have made 28 comments.

  1. Profile photo of E. Blackadder Inactive

    Please don’t give San Francisco and New York City any ideas.

    • #1
    • December 5, 2012 at 4:55 am
  2. Profile photo of Jimmy Carter Member

    I’m still waiting the return of the McDLT.

    • #2
    • December 5, 2012 at 4:57 am
  3. Profile photo of tabula rasa Member

    [Cue Hallelujah Chorus]: I love the McRib.

    • #3
    • December 5, 2012 at 5:01 am
  4. Profile photo of Doctor Bean Thatcher

    Note to self: Ask Rabbi for a single exception to religious dietary laws.

    • #4
    • December 5, 2012 at 5:25 am
  5. Profile photo of Omid Moghadam Member

    This news is going to make the next 4 years just a bit more palatable (every possible pun, and maybe a few impossible ones intended).

    • #5
    • December 5, 2012 at 5:29 am
  6. Profile photo of Dave Inactive

    Last time the McRib came out, fall 2011 I believe, Alex Tabarrok linked to an article ( http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2011/11/the-mcrib-arbitrage.html ) explaining the availability of the sandwich as a function of pork prices dipping below a certain level that made the sandwich profitable.

    The McRib is only available for a short time, the argument went, because McDonalds’ purchasing power is so great that it drives up the price of pork, eventually causing it to rise above the profitability level.

    • #6
    • December 5, 2012 at 5:30 am
  7. Profile photo of Rachel Lu Contributor

    Never understood the cult of the McRib. I do go to McDonald’s sometimes (mostly for either breakfast or drinks), but that sandwich repulses me. Just slimy and squishy and yuck. Pass the whopper, please!

    • #7
    • December 5, 2012 at 5:31 am
  8. Profile photo of John Walker Contributor
    John Yoo

    Only McDonald’s, for marketing reasons unknown, forces us to wait at random intervals.

    My guess is that it’s like Disney, who in the era before video tapes and discs, would release their classic movies in the theatres at an interval of years such that each cohort of children would discover them as something new and magic to them.

    With McDonald’s, it’s both customers returning for tastes of yore and bringing in a new generation of customers who will fondly remember their first bite into the treat long after it has cycled off the menu, only to return years later.

    • #8
    • December 5, 2012 at 5:34 am
  9. Profile photo of Aaron Miller Member

    Oh, John, poor John! There’s a real BBQ sandwhich waiting for you in the heartland. Don’t settle for some fast floozy with fake curves.

    • #9
    • December 5, 2012 at 5:40 am
  10. Profile photo of The Dowager Jojo Member

    My husband and I treated ourselves to McRibs when they were available maybe two years ago- had not had one since around 1980. The recent one was not the same, sorry, it is not just the passage of time. I’m with Rachel. It was not that great and I won’t bother again.

    • #10
    • December 5, 2012 at 5:43 am
  11. Profile photo of Austin Murrey Member

    It’s posts like this whIch answer the question: “Why Ricochet?”

    • #11
    • December 5, 2012 at 5:45 am
  12. Profile photo of Aaron Miller Member

    When I was a kid, it was a rare treat to eat at McDonald’s. The heyday was the onset of the 99-cent war, in which McD’s took a powerful lead with 30-cent cheeseburgers on Wednesdays, closely accompanied by the Homestyle burger. Now, financial priorities have once again driven a wedge between us, but I occasionally return for 20 McNuggets and a large chocolate shake.

    • #12
    • December 5, 2012 at 5:45 am
  13. Profile photo of Troy Senik Editor
    Aaron Miller: Oh, John, poor John! There’s a real BBQ sandwhich waiting for you in the heartland. Don’t settle for some fast floozy with fake curves. · 0 minutes ago

    Aaron, I had the exact same thought.

    John, we’ll have to schedule a live episode of “Law Talk” from Hog Heaven in Nashville.

    • #13
    • December 5, 2012 at 5:45 am
  14. Profile photo of Pilli Member

    I tried a McRib. Once.

    • #14
    • December 5, 2012 at 5:50 am
  15. Profile photo of Tom Lindholtz Inactive

    Now you’ve done it. The LFPD, the Liberal Food Police Dept. , will surely be on their way to the courts (or wherever they go) to stop this wonderful culinary guilty pleasure. The McRib is one of the great market demand driven inventions of the late 20th Century. I can personally guarantee sales. It may not be haute cuisine, but vive vite cuisine!

    • #15
    • December 5, 2012 at 5:52 am
  16. Profile photo of flownover Inactive

    Are we searching for the backbone somewhere in the core of the corporate giants that lay down for this crap ? Where is Coke and Pepsi on the big gulps ? What has sent them running (like rats) for their dark holes of hiding from media acrimony ? These people buy more ads than anyone and they are running from their vendors ?

    Doesn’t make sense. Please provide a moderately professorial answer that satisfies our intellect and our crude public anger (tall order that).

    Chili size at Washoe, Petaluma

    • #16
    • December 5, 2012 at 6:00 am
  17. Profile photo of wilber forge Inactive

    After a trying couple of the McRib concoctions, the desire for another faded rather quickly. Not to say one would not attempt it again for novelties sake.

    Do miss the KFC BBQ chicken, quick and messy, yet good for fast food.

    • #17
    • December 5, 2012 at 6:02 am
  18. Profile photo of Southern Pessimist Member

    Strange, artificial and bad for your health is probably the perfect marketing strategy.

    • #18
    • December 5, 2012 at 6:42 am
  19. Profile photo of SunnyOptimism Inactive

    Mmmmmmmm…the McRat…ummm, I mean McRib…..mmmmmm

    • #19
    • December 5, 2012 at 6:43 am
  20. Profile photo of Southern Pessimist Member

    But don’t think you actually ate barbecue, as others have noted.

    • #20
    • December 5, 2012 at 6:44 am
  21. Profile photo of Troy Senik Editor
    Southern Pessimist: Strange, artificial and bad for your health is probably the perfect marketing strategy. · 9 minutes ago

    It worked for my singles ad.

    • #21
    • December 5, 2012 at 6:52 am
  22. Profile photo of jarhead Inactive

    Just have plenty of napkins handy when eating a McRib, and don’t try eating it while driving. I speak from experience….

    • #22
    • December 5, 2012 at 7:53 am
  23. Profile photo of Richard Finlay Member
    Jojo: My husband and I treated ourselves to McRibs when they were available maybe two years ago- had not had one since around 1980. The recent one was not the same, sorry, it is not just the passage of time. I’m with Rachel. It was not that great and I won’t bother again. · 2 hours ago

    Yes, the original McRib (oh, so many decades ago) was excellent, but the last time around it tasted mostly of gristle. I think they changed their standards for the content of the recombined pork (more connective tissue or bone dust) or their cooking process. (Par boil, maybe? The bane of barbecue.)

    • #23
    • December 5, 2012 at 8:12 am
  24. Profile photo of Fake John/Jane Galt Thatcher

    I understand that McDonalds is now considering pulling the McRib. It seems that Rib = Pork = Islam hater. Those dog whistles that only the left can hear are everywhere.

    • #24
    • December 5, 2012 at 9:18 am
  25. Profile photo of Clandesteyn Member

    Yes, organic, local, heirloom cuisine is overwhelmingly better than the processed, reconstituted, industrial consumables manufactured in America from precursor food-like substances originally dredged out of slurry traps in Myanmar.

    That said, the McRib is a guilty delight. When it feels threatened by an approaching mouth, it emits an enzyme that numbs your cognitive faculties allowing you to enjoy the flavor explosion, free from any spurious concerns about the meat’s origin or the host animal’s phylum.

    The Simpsons captured it perfectly here.

    • #25
    • December 5, 2012 at 9:41 am
  26. Profile photo of Douglas Member

    A friend of mine refers to the McRibb this way: “Mmm, pre-chewed pork”.

    • #26
    • December 5, 2012 at 11:21 am
  27. Profile photo of Miffed White Male Member

    I’ve never considered the McRib “Barbecue”, but it is good. The trick is to not let them over-sauce it.

    • #27
    • December 6, 2012 at 12:29 pm
  28. Profile photo of JimGoneWild Member

    Mmmmmm .. McRib.

    I love the Simpson’s episode on the McRib. A classic.

    • #28
    • December 8, 2012 at 5:08 am