It was a late night at the office. Outside my window, the occasional crack of thunder broke through the sound of unrelenting rain. I sat at my desk, furiously tapping away at the typewriter, working on reviews of the latest food items to hit the streets. Suddenly, the phone rang.
It was a stranger. He spoke low, almost whispering, his voice shrouded in mystery.
Stranger: Is this a secure line?
There was a pause.
Stranger: I heard you’ve been having cravings…for the McRib.
Ah, the McRib. That elusive barbecue pork sandwich sold only periodically by McDonald’s restaurants. Unfortunately, McRib season had recently ended, and my stomach growled with a hunger that could only be sated by one special sandwich.
Me: Keep your voice down! McRib season is over. There’s nothing for me to do.
Stranger: I’ve got something you should see. Meet me in the alleyway on Fourth and Main. No cops.
The stranger hung up the phone. I put out my cigarette and grabbed my trench coat and fedora. No good detective – I mean, food writer – leaves without his fedora.
I thought about the call. Could this shady stranger possibly be a McRib dealer, peddling pork sandwiches as addictive as crack cocaine? Or might his product be a cheap, low-grade imitation? There was only one way to find out.
I waited in the alleyway for the stranger. Just as I began growing impatient, I saw him appear, his identity masked by the shadows. He handed me an unmarked white bag.
Stranger: It’s not a McRib, but try it. You won’t be disappointed.
Suddenly, the stranger ran off. In the poorly lit alleyway, I had difficulty seeing what he looked like, but as he fled, I noticed the faint outline of a crown upon his head.
Ah, The Burger King. We meet again.
Back at my office, I opened the bag and found the new BK Rib Sandwich, a barbecue pork sandwich available for a limited time on Burger King’s new summer menu.
I must admit, I had high expectations. Could the new BK Rib Sandwich possibly compete with my beloved McRib? Wide-eyed with anticipation, I unwrapped my sandwich…
The first thing I noticed about the BK Rib Sandwich was its appearance. Unlike the McRib, which has a wider-shaped roll, the BK Rib Sandwich is served on a standard hamburger bun. Upon removing the top, we find pickles and a rather square-shaped pork patty, complete with appetizing grill marks. Though the sandwich seems a little flatter than the McRib, the pork on the BK Rib Sandwich just looks better than the pork slab found on the McRib.
But enough about the looks. Taste will be the determining factor for this sandwich.
Biting into the BK Rib Sandwich, I instantly noticed the pork flavor: it has a much more vibrant smokiness compared to the McRib. As a result, it feels more like I’m eating authentic pork and less like I’m eating a processed pork product. Furthermore, the barbecue sauce is truly enjoyable. Though the sauce might not be as noticeably tangy as the McRib sauce, it is sweet nonetheless, and even has a pleasant spiciness which I was not expecting. After a few bites, I noticed the heat of the burger. The burn is not overwhelming, though; the sauce of the BK Rib Sandwich has the perfect amount of kick to complement its sweetness.
Sadly, I feel that the pickles found on my sandwich took the back seat to the rib flavor. The sweetness of the pickles was often masked by the flavor of the barbecue sauce and pork. This was a little unexpected, as the pork patty wasn’t completely slathered in sauce. In addition, the sandwich completely lacked onions, which happen to be my favorite part of the McRib. Onions would have been a definite improvement for the BK Rib Sandwich.
So how does the BK Rib Sandwich fare against the McRib? Well, that’s a tough question. Both sandwiches have their strengths. I love what the onions and pickles do for the McRib, but the lack of onions and the masked pickle taste are definite drawbacks. However, I prefer the barbecue sauce on the BK Rib Sandwich due to its combination of sweetness and spiciness.
Overall, the BK Rib Sandwich was delicious, and I hope it will be seen as more than just a substitution for the McRib. Will I ever eat another McRib? Yes, it’s inevitable. It’s a classic! And I truly hope that the sandwich returns with Burger King’s summer menu next year.
(Nutrition Facts – 560 calories, 31 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 1530 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, 19 grams of sugar, 24 grams of protein.)
Item: Burger King Rib Sandwich
Purchased Price: $5.25
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Spicy barbecue sauce. Smoky pork flavor. Grill marks. Meeting strangers in alleyways.
Cons: Pickle flavor is masked. No onions!