No, not the pumpkin spice latte, which, all apologies to Bond villain Hugo Drax, has appeared with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season.
No, I mean everyone’s favorite 1980s-menu-flop-come-legendary-limited-time menu item —McRib!
McDonalds is actually calling it “McRib season.” Sip on that with your PSL. Seriously, is “PSL” an acceptable term now? It keeps popping up in things I read, but one place I didn’t read that was in my style manual.
Anyway, McRib. Made of some sort of pressed pork and shaped into a boneless rack-shaped patty, drenched in a neon-red barbecue sauce, topped with onions and pickles and served on an oblong bun, McRib has made periodic and more infrequent returns to the menu in select markets over the years.
Those of us obsessed with the strangely “McRib-flavored” sandwich — who I now will officially deem “McRib Nation” — will climb mountains and swim oceans to find it.
Well, maybe not all that, but we’ll drive a few miles. Maybe not as far as Homer Simpson, but a few miles.
Yes, even “The Simpsons” paid homage to McRib — sorry, Krusty Burger called it a “RibWich,” but we all knew the special sandwich Homer craved.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the McRib was born in a lab, the result of a National Pork Producers Council effort to get pork on fast food menus. The patty that emerged looked like a pork chop, NPR reported in 2011, Mickey D’s came up with that infamous rib-like shape.
In all likelihood, McRib would never have attained its coveted status had it not been pulled from the menu. In my experiments, and I’ve run a few, one McRib will do the trick for a while.
But through the ingenious marketing tactic of only making it available for short, relatively unpredictable periods, it creates a feeding frenzy among the crazed, McRib starved masses.
Even by McDonalds standards, the McRib furor on social media was overwhelming. There are websites dedicated to “finding McRib near me” that seemingly popped up overnight. The official one is called “McFinder.” What, you thought it would be called something else?
Stories were posted news outlets nationwide — my iPad was inundated with breaking news alerts following the announcement of McRib’s return. I mean, this is big stuff! Some idiots even write columns about it!
And it works! For me, nowadays, McDonalds is a sometimes treat. I can’t take the calories, I can’t take the heartburn, and I spend a lot less time behind the wheel of my car, throwing down a value meal before covering something.
But dangle a McRib out there, and I’m right back in line. Like Michael Corleone, just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in!
Obsessed? Maybe. But before you go blaming this kind of thing on men of a certain age, who spent Saturday mornings watching cartoons and knew who the “Fry Guys” were, I will point out my significant other dragged us around to every McDonalds in New England on her desperate, fruitless search for a McLobster Roll last summer.
We won’t even mention Shamrock shakes.
McRib isn’t even some silly regional specialty like McLobster, it’s nationwide and only available for a limited time at select locations!
Yep, that’s right folks, if you don’t get one now, McRib goes back in the vault until next time. Just like that timeless Disney classic on VHS, it may be years!
Seriously, I think they actually do that. I’m pretty sure the stuff doesn’t go bad. That sauce is probably some sort of government lab mega-preservative.