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The McRib – I've Eaten Worse

The McRib is back. Yippee, by which I mean… Meh.
I am often a fan of some of the fast-food industry’s culinary celebrities,
and when it comes to famous food, the McRib certainly has earned it’s popular reputation. 
Many fast-food superstars gain their stardom by clever marketing and/or limited availability.
Some actually taste good or were a bold or refreshing idea, thus strengthening their popularity.
Remember the McDLT? (hot side hot, cool side cool – friggin’ brilliant!)
How about Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich? (A spicy sandwich that is ACTUALLY spicy,)
Before their questionable origins came front and center, Chicken McNuggets were the ‘Michael Jordan’ of fast-food batter fried chicken bites (some of you remember when they first appeared in the early 80’s). Every kid wanted McNuggets in his happy meal (now banned in SF , but that’s another rant).

What often happens to many of these fast-food superheroes, however,
is they often miss the mark or fall quite short of their hype.
Some that come to mind are :
Wendy’s Baconator (not enough bacon, and far from crispy),
KFC’s Double Down (other than gluttony, what was the point of this?),
the Taco Bell Chalupa – all sizes up to XXL (ditto),
the Pizza Hut P’zone (a super sized pizza puff? stick to pizza, guys! leave pizza puffs to the professionals.)
Burger King’s Chicken Fries, the Big King big mac clone (um… yeah… this is stupid. stick to Whoppers – they are infinitely better than the big mac – and ditch the ‘franken-fries‘ and go back to the original fries that I remember from the early 80’s).

But getting back to the subject…
The BBQ fan in me really wants to like this valiant attempt by McD to appeal to the masses with something barbecue flavored. I really wanted to like the McRib and be able to count this sandwich on my list of occasional guilty pleasures like McDonald’s world-famous french fries or the similarly rare and intriguing frozen minty concoction known as the Shamrock Shake. Sadly, the McRib just doesn’t cut it when there are so many better local options for ‘real’ BBQ.

A little bit of analysis:
1)
GOOD: It’s made from real pork
, and not the endangered/extinct 8-legged animal that Krusty the Clown alludes to in the Ribwich episode of The Simpsons. We all know that great things can be made from barbecuing, smoking or otherwise cooking pig parts. (ribs, bacon, pork chops, italian sausage, etc.)
BAD: Spam is also made from real pork, and seems to be a much closer relative to the McRib than the McRib is to actual barbecue. Perhaps the McRib would fare much better in Hawaii, where highly processed canned pork products are highly popular. Also, this ‘boneless rib’ lacks any substantial amount of smokiness or flavor.

2)
GOOD:
There is a moderately seasoned and mild BBQ flavored sauce.
BAD: There is a moderately seasoned and mild BBQ flavored sauce. It is a glorified ketchup that is not nearly bold or spicy enough to help mask the blandness of the boneless pork. Also, the one I had last week was pretty light on the sauce, I don’t know if all the locations are that stingy on BBQ sauce, but this one was seriously lacking.

3)
GOOD: They put pickles and slivered onions on top. I like pickles. Don’t you like pickles? Of course you do!
BAD: Were this a pulled pork sandwich or something similar, it would likely have a generous mound of well-prepared slaw (and I wouldn’t complain if they also added some pickles). Realizing that a giant fast-food conglomerate might have a heck of a time ensuring quality control over something like cole slaw (though somehow KFC seems to manage), I would have settled for more pickles. I could take or leave the onions, so you might as well leave them out.

4)
GOOD: It’s a decent-sized sandwich.
BAD:  Size just doesn’t make up for the inferior quality and mediocre flavor of this sandwich. There’s more bun than meat here (when they actually use the right bun). It’s the size of an italian beef sandwich, with less than half of the meat that you’d find in one. I’d rather spend a few extra bucks and get a pulled pork sandwich from the BBQ joint down the street.

To summarize: The McRib – I’ve eaten worse.
It’s not very good, and hardly a sufficient substitute for real barbecue.
I’m not “lovin’ it”.

McDonald’s would be much wiser to serve actual smoked rib meat pulled off the bone with a better tasting and spicier BBQ sauce. Short of that, they could easily offer a REAL pulled pork sandwich made from one of the popular brands like Curly’s or Lloyd’s.

Since this is a fast food rant, I restrained myself from commenting on some of the questionable ingredients in the McRib (hfcs, partially hydrogenated oil, various preservatives, etc.) and their possible effects on the health of those consuming them. There’s plenty of information out there that will help you make your own decisions on what you eat. You can browse the ingredients below and decide for yourself.

I know that some of you out there like the McRib and I say ‘whatever floats your boat’. Everyone has their own tastebuds.
If you don’t agree with my pseudo hatchet-job-esque article on the McRib (and other fast-food items in this article),
then by all means please register on blogger and post a comment – or write your own darn blog!

McRib Ingredients from https://web.archive.org/web/20110110072317/http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com:80/nutritionexchange/itemDetailInfo.do?itemID=10031 :

McRib Pork Patty
Pork, water, salt, dextrose, BHA and BHT and propyl gallate and citric acid (preservatives).

McRib Bun
Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, yeast, high fructose corn syrup, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, corn meal, wheat gluten, soybean oil, partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oils, dextrose, sugar, malted barley flour, cultured wheat flour, calcium sulfate, ammonium
sulfate, soy flour, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, datem, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, guar gum, calcium peroxide), calcium propionate (preservative), soy lecithin.

CONTAINS: WHEAT AND SOY

McRib Sauce
Water, high fructose corn syrup, tomato paste, distilled vinegar, molasses, natural smoke flavor (plant source), food starch-modified, salt, sugar, spices, soybean oil, xanthan gum, onion powder, garlic powder, chili pepper, sodium benzoate (preservative), caramel color, beet powder.

Pickle Slices
Cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, alum, potassium sorbate (preservative), natural flavors (plant source), polysorbate 80, extractives of turmeric (color).

Slivered Onions

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