“The McRib is back…for a limited time!” the sign screamed out from the front of the Golden Arches.
“Curious,” I thought as I drove by.
For those of you not in the know, the McRib is a boneless barbeque pork sandwich. It first showed up around ‘89 and remained a staple of the Mickey D’s menu for about a decade, when suddenly it was announced that it would disappear forever. However, since then the sandwich has been popping up sporadically in areas around the country for brief stints, surfacing like a migrating whale before vanishing once again into the abyss.
A fanatical cult of McRib worshipers soon developed who keep track of the mythical sandwich’s whereabouts via websites. People travel to and gather at the places that serve the McRib, like a strange tailgate party that keeps changing stadiums but never ends.
The first time I saw a commercial for the McRib, I thought it looked disgusting. I was especially skeeved out by the way they made the patty look like it had bones. As much as I love a new product, this was one that I had no desire to try.
As the years have passed, the cult of the sandwich has grown. I fully realized how much of a cultural benchmark it was when the McRib cult was parodied on the Simpsons in the form of Krusty Burger’s Ribwich. When I learned that the McRib was coming to LA, I decided the time was right to try this mysterious object of cult worship. I took myself to the McD’s drive thru and bought myself one. (You read that FTC, I bought it myself!)
Inside the box was a sloppy mess of BBQ sauce under a bleached white bun. I love BBQ, but hate it when it’s slathered in too much sauce. Usually over-saucers like Tony Roma's or Chili's are trying hide mediocre tasting meat by drowning it in sauce.
There is a reason why the McRib is drowning in sauce. Even by McDonald’s standards, it’s not a very good sandwich. All you really taste is the BBQ sauce, which is too sweet and lacks depth of flavor. The sauce even overpowers the onions and pickles, which at McDonald's is no small feat. The pre-formed, chopped patty has the same consistency as a McNugget, expect that it’s not fried so its texture can best be described as “slimy.”
Cults are curious things. Having cult status, does not necessarily dictate quality. There is no particular reason why something develops a cult around it. Some cults I can understand, like Rocky Horror Picture Show or fans of Arrested Development, while others are confounding like Twi-hards or Oprah worship. I’m afraid the McRib falls into the ever-widening category of cults I cannot understand.
After a few bites of the sandwich, I pitched it. If I’m gonna clog my arteries, I might as well do it with something better…like bacon. There's no cults around bacon, are there?