McRib is a barbecue-flavored pork sandwich periodically sold by the international fast food restaurant chain McDonald's. It was first introduced to the McDonald's menu in 1981, following test marketing the year before.
|Nutritional value per 1 sandwich, 7.4 ounces (210 grams)|
|Energy||2,008.32 kJ (480.00 kcal)|
45 g (15%)
|Dietary fiber||2 g (10%)|
22 g (34%)
|Saturated||7 g (36%)|
|Vitamin A equiv.|
|Energy from fat||240 kcal (1,000 kJ)|
|Cholesterol||80 mg (27%)|
|Ingredients||McRib Pork Patty, Homestyle Roll, McRib Sauce,|
Pickle Slices, Slivered Onions
May vary outside US market.
^† No significant measurable trace.
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults. |
After poor sales, it was removed from the menu in 1985. McRib was reintroduced in 1989, staying on the menu until 2005 in many countries. Since 2006, it has generally been made available for a short time each year in most markets where it is sold, typically during the fall season, although is a permanent menu item at McDonald's restaurants in Germany and Luxembourg.
McRib consists of a restructured boneless pork patty shaped like a miniature rack of ribs, barbecue sauce, onions, and pickles served on a 5 1⁄2 inches (14 cm) roll. The process of restructuring the meat was first developed by the US Army as a means to deliver low cost meat products to troops in the field. This process was further refined by a Natick Center contractor and meat scientist, Dr. Roger Mandigo, leading to the McRib patty as we know it today. Despite its name, it is primarily composed of pork shoulder meat, according to McDonald's.
McRib Jr. was available briefly in 2000. This version replaced the roll with a standard hamburger bun, and was served with two pickles and a smaller pork patty.
McRib made its debut in the United States in 1981, as a limited time item. It was developed by McDonald's first Executive Chef René Arend, a native from Luxembourg, who invented Chicken McNuggets in 1979.
"The McNuggets were so well received that every franchise wanted them," said Arend in a 2009 interview. "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." It was his inspiration to shape the McRib patty "like a slab of ribs," despite the fact that a round patty would have been cheaper to manufacture and serve on standard hamburger buns.
McRib was not immediately successful. It test-marketed very well in the Midwest, and was added to the restaurant's permanent menu for the United States in 1981. Sales were mediocre, however, and it was removed in 1985 as McDonald's executives determined that pork is not eaten frequently enough in the United States to stay on the menu.
After several years, it returned for a promotion. It is more popular in Germany, where it remains a permanent item. McRib was also brought back occasionally in 1989, 1990 (together with the "BBQ in a Bag" promotion), 1991, 1992 (with the Western Omelette McMuffin as part of a Western promotion), and 1993.
In summer 1994, McDonald's brought back McRib nationally, as a tie in with the theatrical release of The Flintstones, comparing the appearance of it with the rack of ribs that topples the Flintmobile in both the animated and live action productions. McDonald's (which was featured in the film as "RocDonald's") supported the return with McRib packaging featuring the Flintstones characters and a television commercial featuring Rosie O'Donnell in her role as Betty Rubble.
On November 1, 2005, McDonald's issued a press release announcing that McRib would be permanently removed from the menu following a "McRib Farewell Tour". McRib.com, a website registered to McDonald's, featured a petition to "Save the McRib", which was facetiously sponsored by the "Boneless Pig Farmers Association of America". On October 16, 2006, the "McRib Farewell Tour II" site appeared.
McRib reappeared in the United States in October 2007, beginning a third "farewell tour". McDonald's sold 30 million made with over 7 million pounds (3 million kg) of pork in 2007. Its fourth reintroduction was in the end of October 2008, across the United States, Hong Kong, and Japan, with a promotional website featuring music sponsored by a "McRib DJ Plowman" in tribute to its creator.
On November 2, 2010, McDonald's began six weeks of nationwide McRib availability at the Legends of the McRib event in New York City, honoring three superfans: Joey Erwin, aka Mr. McRib; Alan Klein, founder of the McRib Locator website; and Adam Winer. The promotion ended December 5, 2010. McDonald's credited it with boosting their November 2010 sales by 4.8%. It was the first national offering of the McRib since 1994.
In celebration of the London Olympics 2012, McDonald's Australia and New Zealand reintroduced McRib as the Atlanta Pork McRib. McRib was one of six limited edition McDonald's items named after previous host cities. It was released on Wednesday 23 May and ran until June 5. Sales of McRib in New Zealand exceeded expectations, exhausting supplies within days of the release of the burger with restaurants running out of their allocations of stock.
For 2012, McDonald's announced that McRib's annual release would be delayed until the December 17, as opposed to its traditional autumn release (which would instead be used to debut the Cheddar Bacon Onion Angus Burger, or "CBO"). The move was an effort to boost sales during the December period in an attempt to match 2011's abnormally high restaurant wide sales figures.
McRib wasn't released nationally and was sold only in a few cities in a few states in the United States (a la the 2005 "McRib Farewell Tour" promotion) in 2013 due to the company introducing several new products (such as the Mighty Wings). McRib was sold again starting on October 20, 2014 and ending on January 4, 2015, but only in a few cities in a few states in the United States (a la the 2006 "McRib Farewell Tour II" promotion).
McRib made a return in the United Kingdom on December 31, 2014 until February 3, 2015. McRib was sold again starting on October 2015 and ending in January 2016, but only in a few cities in a few states in the United States (55 percent of McDonald's locations). It became available again in November 2016, but at a limited number of McDonald's locations; and once more since October 2017, but in most areas. Local McDonalds twitter accounts announced in Southern California and Hawaii that the McRib would be returning to these locations on 2 and 9 November 2017 respectively. The McRib once again made a limited return in the United States and Australia at participating locations starting in October 2018.
In November 2011, the Humane Society of the United States filed a complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission against the producer of McRib meat, Smithfield Foods, alleging cruel and unusual treatment of the animals used in the McRib patty production. The complaint cites the use of gestation crates and poor and unsanitary living conditions, as well as a lack of proper animal welfare.
Speculation on the limited availability of the McRib includes theories concerning the fluctuating price and unreliable supply chains of bulk pork, manipulation of availability windows to turn the product into a better loss leader for the company, and the generation of renewed enthusiasm and higher sales as a result of scarcity.
An informal study from 2011 entitled "A Conspiracy of Hogs: The McRib as Arbitrage" illustrates a correlation between the price of pork and the timing of McDonald's offering the sandwich; all five of the US McRib offerings between 2005 and 2011 occurred during low points in the price of bulk pork.
The official explanation from the McDonald's website concerning the sandwich's limited availability is: "We like to change up our menu throughout the year by offering some limited time only items, like our Shamrock Shake in the Spring. The timing of the McRib's return can vary from year to year, but most recently, it's made its appearance in the Fall". 
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'The pork meat is chopped up, then seasoned, then formed into that shape that looks like a rib back. Then we flash freeze it. The whole process from fresh pork to frozen McRib takes about 45 minutes.'--Rob Cannell, director of McDonald’s U.S. supply chain
- Ryan, Andrew (November 14, 2013). "Alleged Canadian photo of frozen McDonald’s McRib not the most appetizing thing in the world". The Globe and Mail.
- "Boneless Pig Farmers Association of America". Archived from the original on 2005-12-30.
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- Cato, Jason (November 4, 2010). "McRib rollout finds fast foodies feverish for the flavor". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
- Rexrode, Christina (24 October 2011). "The McRib makes a McComeback". USA Today, Associated Press. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- "McDonald's Putting Olympics on Menu". Burger Business. May 8, 2012.
- Morrison, Maureen (September 17, 2012). Can the McRib save Christmas?. Advertising Age. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
- "McDonald's is bringing back the McRib". Business Insider. October 31, 2017.
- Taylor, Kate (October 25, 2018). "McDonald's is bringing back the McRib at thousands of locations". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
- Satran, Joe (2011-11-04). "McRib Lawsuit Pits Humane Society Against Smithfield Farms, McDonald's Over Animal Welfare". The Huffington Post.
- "The McRib's suspiciously 'limited' availability: 4 theories". The Week. November 11, 2011. Archived from the original on November 13, 2011.
- Staley, Willy (2011-11-08). "A Conspiracy of Hogs: The McRib as Arbitrage". The Awl.
- Why isn't the McRib sold year-round?. Retrieved November 06, 2014.