I have had a McRib. In fact, I have had more than one McRib. If I had to guess, I’d wager that I’ve had somewhere between three and five McRibs. Each fall, there are some immutable truths: your brother-in-law will attempt to persuade you to let him take you deer hunting, people will spend the week after the time change complaining about how early it gets dark, and McDonald’s will act like they are doing the world no small favor by bringing back everyone’s favorite processed pork-parts patty.
And every three or four years, I go, “Do I like a McRib? People go nuts for these things. But I can’t remember…” And so I eat one and then go right back to forgetting. But now that I am committing my thoughts to the Internet — and provided the domain fees for this site continue to be paid — I will never again forget how I feel about this annual porkwich.
Here’s how I feel: I probably don’t need to eat another one of these again in my life.
That’s not to say this sandwich is aggressively bad or that it is an affront to my gastric sensibilities; it’s fine. But “fine” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, and the fact of the matter is this: there are 15 better menu items you can order from McDonald’s.
Furthermore, if you have an unyielding hankering for a pork-patty sandwich, you can probably get a cheaper and more delicious one somewhere else. QuikTrip, a multi-region chain of convenience stores, sells a much better and cheaper BBQ pork riblet sandwich. I mean, sure, you have to microwave it yourself, but it’s a small trade-off for a vastly superior product.
So, what is it about the McRib that keeps me from — ba-da-ba-ba-ba — loving it?
The pork patty itself is perfectly okay. It’s meaty and chewy, and what one probably expects from “restructured meat” composed primarily of pork shoulder. It’s inoffensive (if uninspired). There are no “subtle undertones” or “complex nuances” to be had; it is chewy, and identifiably meat, and that’s pretty much it.
The same can be said of the pickles, which are McD’s standard, flimsy sour discs, and the onions, which are respectably crunchy and tangy. The bun is a bland (but again, just fine) homestyle roll that is dusted with some sort of seed. (Nearly everything on the Internet identifies it as a sesame seed bun, but this isn’t true. The ones on the McRib bun are tiny and round and yellow, like a poppy seed, but not. I think this is called “corn dusted”?)
Anyway, what I think really ruins the McRib is the bath of sweet sauce the patty receives. The sauce is tart and pungently tangy, like ketchup that has gone south, and the sandwich is absolutely SWIMMING in it. You cannot take a bite of this thing without splurting or dripping the sticky red goo everywhere. It is a slasher-film of a lunch.
In the end, I think this sandwich thrives off of two things: 1) nostalgia and 2) limited availability. I’d be genuinely surprised if many people try one for the first time this November and instantly begin a countdown clock until its sloppy return.
Purchased Price: $5.29
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 520 calories, 28 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 890 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 13 grams of sugars, and 24 grams of protein.
(Editor’s Note: Last year, I decided we would review the McRib every time it returns, and each time it would be a different writer. I’m doing it mostly for funsies, but I also want to read different takes on this sandwich. If you’re interested, here’s our review from 2020.)