note: This essay is just barely okay. Over-written and not really all that amusing...but we needed something in this space. -Imus
November 2nd 2010. A date that will live…in infamy. For it is the day when the McRib will return after a 16-year hiatus.
And some people think there is no God.
It is McDonald’s most mystifyingly elusive sandwich. Unlike the Big Mac, the Quarter Pounder, and the ubiquitous Angus Deluxe’(with or without bacon), the McRib is not readily available. Although there are a few outlets throughout the nation where stalwart fast food enthusiasts may score its onion and pickle laden, barbecue sauce slathered goodness on a regular basis, it has been absent from the Golden Arch’s national menu since its farewell tour in 2005. The return of the McRib is cause for celebration among grease aficionados everywhere, as this is the item that single-handedly put the “unk” in junk food.
There is no more unctuous comestible than the McRib, nor one more curious in its construction. Chicken fingers were always a misnomer, for if pullets had the benefit of opposable thumbs, you can be damn sure they wouldn’t be as easy an entrée as they currently are. However, just as it is incredulous that Cheap Trick has not been inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, you have to wonder how the folks who hand out the Nobel Prize didn’t bestow one upon Mickey D’s for the invention of the McNugget. Bite-size convenience notwithstanding, at least they sound as if they actually are a part of the chicken: you know they don’t have fingers, but they MUST have nuggets. Otherwise, how do we wind up with baby chicks?
Kudos must also be handed out to McD’s for their Hot Apple Pie, certainly one of the more creative desserts a chain restaurant has ever offered. After slamming a quarter-pound of congealed kangaroo meat into my gullet, I usually have a hankering for a fried egg roll stuffed with an apple cinnamon filling and served at a temperature akin to that of molten magma. For me, no visit to McDonald’s is complete without burning the first three layers of flesh off the roof of my mouth, so that they hang at the back of my throat like curtains.
But dreaming up the McRib takes a certain kind of genius. They could have merely taken a patty of ground pork and served it as the McPork sandwich. But careful thought and creative design abounded, and the “meat” was formed into the shape of an actual rack of ribs, sans, of course, the bone.
Which, of course, would negate its classification as an actual ‘rib’ in the first place. An ice cream cone cannot be such, without, well, the ice cream or the cone. You kind of can’t call something a rib if there isn’t a rib in it. Similarly, you can’t eat a rib as a sandwich, due to the aforementioned bone problem.
Thus, McDonald’s created one of the greatest concoctions to grace the existence of modern history since the Salk Vaccine. KFC may have raised the bar by bringing the world the Double Down, a bacon and chicken breast patty sandwich that threw caution to the wind by removing the need for bread by using the chicken itself as the delivery system. But the McRib—completely manufactured, ultra-processed, an ersatz offering of faux food—is the sun-source of all that we hold sacred, of all that is holy.
It is, in short, America. On a bun.