Sunday, November 21, 2010

McRib Returns to McDonalds- The Celestial Comet Hath Arrived!

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As astronomers await the coming of Hailey’s and other comets, McDonalds aficionados have anxiously awaited the return of the beloved McRib Sandwich for years. It's back, for only six weeks, till mid December!

This half foot long legend has attained culinary cult status, due to intermittent availability of the sandwich over three decades.  The sandwich first appeared around 1981, then disappeared. It has come and gone a few times over the past 29 years- not so much like a predictable comet as a capricious asteroid, appearing at the command and whim of Ronald McDonald and his kroc of clowns.
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“It is what it is,” is the best way to explain the iconic sandwich and its popularity. It’s sticky to hold, messy to eat, has no pretensions of gourmet aspirations, and boldly defies its own label as “tangy.” There's a nationwide  "McRib locator site" informing the faithful of the beloved beast's location. People post home videos, proclaiming their desire and  passion to hold and eat the McRib.  Loved and admired by the faithful and scorned by unwashed heathens; few are McRib neutral.

My McRib Sandwich cost $2.99;  prices vary.
Order one, and it arrives minutes later, nobly enthroned in its custom built, water resistant covered thick-paper based rectangular container. Thankfully, it’s not a thick plastic. McDonalds could be future- conscious like Whole Foods and make the box McBiodegradable, scoring major points with kids and moms.  McWaste can remain intact for centuries in a landfill.

Pop the lid and the six inch bun cheerfully greets you, rimmed with sticky BBQ sauce, sliced pickle and sliced onion. It has a pleasant BBQ scent. Look under the hood, er,  bun and gaze on the patty and toppings.
Take a bite; the pork patty is quite tender and juicy, and the BBQ sauce is pleasant and mild, not “tangy” as advertised. The crisp sliced white onions on top give a good textural counterpoint to the tender patty. The few pickle slices add little to the whole. The patty comes from a breed of boneless pigs. There's one such pig portrayed on the box. Unveiling the patty, it does has a rib bone pattern to it. Perhaps they aren't the full blooded boneless heritage strain, but a suitable Berkshire or Angus hybrid. Whatever. Cutting across the patty does not reveal sliced or pulled pork. The patty is a finely ground, genuine ersatz porcine product pâté.
No rich pâté de campagne in taste either; the pale patty has an ambiguous taste, not a boldy defined pork taste. Scraping off the BBQ sauce, it could pass for ground chicken, finely ground scrapple or alligator. Ah, the magnificent McRib! It is what it is-an All American icon. It deserves an American flag to accompany it in the photo.

The 6” bun is truly a delight-soft, warm, tender and fresh tasting with a nice scent.
I like the McRib, and welcome it back! It’s comfort food to the faithful. Clearly it's the best pork that free range boneless pigs can deliver to your taste buds. It’s a filling portion for three bucks; a good deal. Grasshopper, if you must ask about calories and nutritional information, kindly seek guidance elsewhere. You are not worthy of communing with the McRib.
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How can the McRib be improved? Offer a truly tangy sauce or two, package it and other meals in biodegradable boxes, and McD's will be in like Flynn!
I also enjoyed a $2.99 McCafé Mocha Frappé. It’s a mix of coffee extract, cream, sugar, cocoa and some things I can’t pronounce. They’re all good for you, and will preserve us to the age of 110. It is tasty, topped wth whipped cream and a chocolate swirl. It is cold, cold, cold! I drank too fast and had a severe case of brain freeze, during which time I robbed two banks and set a getaway bicycle speed record. Honest officer, I'm not responsible, it's all the Frappés fault!
I'd happily order this Frappé again, or try another McCafé special- there's Mocha, Latte, Cappucino, and Caramel Frappe to name a few.

McDonalds, Burger King, Wendys and a score of  chains compete at the low cost, high volume price point. All compete to offer good bang for the buck. While the Mc Rib will leave Earth and return to McOrbit  outer space, the McCafé offerings and the delicious berry smoothies will be around, and that’s no Kroc. Stop in, taste an American icon before ~ December 10th, and savor and see for yourself.

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