Monday, November 18, 2013

Have you heard of this thing? It's called The McRib

What the heck is it?! Ha.
Well, one cloudy day, I finally made the trek to my neighborhood McDonald's to find out.



By the way, that is not me walking in the door. I only just noticed that guy in the pic.

So, a bit of info for ya really quick first. McRib actually came out back in 1981, but since then, it came and went a lot. Originally, it had weak sales, but now it has legions of fans with websites and everything, even a tracking site to let fans know when it is back and where it has been spotted available. This seasonally offered, rib-shaped, compressed pork, BBQ sandwich is a legitimate phenomenon, and this year, it's back again. 

Here's my experience trying the thing at the Austin, TX McDonald's on W Braker Lane, near where I live. I don't go to McD's very often. In fact, almost never, though I collected Happy Meal Toys for years and used to go far too often because of that. However, I have been to this McDonald's once before (I had a coupon for a free wrap), and I rather like the style inside. The booths towards the rear have this really fancy, Great Gatsby style to them. They also have a decor area that looks like an artificial fireplace heater, but when I asked if they could turn it on (since I was pretty cold and sitting right next to it, and I thought that even a fake fireplace might add a nice holiday touch to the experience), they didn't know what I was talking about and said it was just a decoration. Why does everyone look at me like I'm from outer space or something?




Looks pretty good on the poster, doesn't it? Well, in my case, I don't eat onions or pickles, and I don't drink Dr. Pepper (I'm a Coke man, and since when does McD's serve drinks in glasses like that?), but it still looks pretty darn good. So, I went ahead and ordered a McRib combo for myself (incidentally, you can get a spare McRib for a buck right now if you order the combo; not a bad bargain, if not particularly good for you). To get this part out of the way, the coke was fine as (McD's Cokes go) and the fries were phenomenal.



Now, I should mention that I tried the McRib once before a few years back while making the 5 hour drive from Austin to my parents' house in the Rio Grande Valley. It was my first and only time eating the McRib, it was a drive-thru experience in a small town en route, and after having it again, I sorta feel that first one I got might have been sitting around for a while before I got it. This one was definitely a fresher serving, with a far less disturbing cross-section. I mean, at least it was juicy this time. But, I'm getting ahead of myself... Here's how it looked when I cracked open the package...




So, yeah, that first look at the McRib with the hoagy bun still on is surely not a bad sight, if a bit of a messy one. It's a barbecue sandwich, after all. Let's take off the lid and see what we've got...




That's a bit different, huh? I mean, it really puts things in a different perspective. Obviously, this is not a normal animal part, ha. Now, the McRib is, if I understand it (and I've seen some this way in other reviews), supposed to be completely dipped and therefore completely covered in barbecue sauce. This McRib clearly was just resting on a bed of barbecue sauce. Now, I don't know if ANY McD's actually dips their McRibs with a pair of tongs, like I believe I've seen on one of the old commercials, but it seems they are at least supposed to be slathering the stuff on both sides to get that all red look from the ads and that I've seen in other people's reviews. On the bright side though, receiving it this way (and yes, I requested they hold the pickles and onions), I was actually able to taste the "meat" of the sandwich as well as the sauce. Or, I was able to attempt to taste it, anyway... 



There's your cross-section, guys, and let me tell ya, though it's still an odd lookin' critter, it looks a lot better than the first and only McRib I have ever tried prior to this, which, as I said, was a couple years back. One of the main reasons is that this one was actually juicy, like I said. But, how does the McRib taste? It tastes like barbecue sauce and bread with the texture of the a compressed meat product inbetween, which is weird. I guess a hot dog kinda texture. But, as is a problem I often have with pork, other than the really salty and flavorful stuff like bacon, ham, sausage, or even hot dogs and spam, the meat of the McRib itself is kind of flavorless. It is mostly left up to the sauce combined with the odd texture of the thing. In truth, it kinda leaves me wondering, why are people so obsessed with this thing? Yeah, it's succulent in a way. As I mentioned, it's rather like a hot dog in terms of texture, combined with what the rib-shape adjusts that to feel like, and without hot dog taste, just that barbecue sauce tang all over (well, not ALL over mine). It wasn't exactly bad to me (though I'm sure it would gross lots of people out), but it wasn't anything special either, and as pork is pretty hit or miss with me, color me somewhat unimpressed. Still, I'm tellin' ya, people LOVE these things. Just checkout one of the Cinema Snob's recent videos at www.thecinemasnob.com to see and hear him make love to the thing. I sincerely don't get it. Kind of. Well, I mean, it is an unusual texture. I said it's similar to a hot dog, but not EXACTLY. It has its own texture to a certain degree. It's unique. If you LOVE the flavor of the sauce, I guess I can see how you might get hooked on these. Who knows, maybe I'll come back for another next year. Maybe it creeps up on you with its addiction. But for now, this visit was good to hold me over till then. My suggestion to McD's would be to add a bit of flavor to this weird meat thing they've got going in this sandwich, but, well, why mess with an underground sensation? All I can say is, for those who love it, get out there while the gettin' is good. McRib is back, but just for a limited time!  It's sort of a holiday... thing.

7 comments:

  1. McDonalds has made this sandwich into a holiday perennial for the last couple years now. I usually try at least one before they leave the menu. I think they are above-average; certainly nothing spectacular. Another once-a-year holiday offering at McDonalds is the Shamrock Shake (for St. Patrick's Day). Now THAT is something worth grabbing while it's out. I also enjoy the Spicy McChicken sandwich when it's on the menu, as it's only a buck and it's pretty spicy and flavorful. Usually when I eat fast food, it's Chick-fil-A or Popeyes. They both serve fantastic food, and at prices comparable to the current McDonalds/Wendy's/Burger King offerings. As far as Dr. Pepper goes, I enjoy it for it's unique taste. My number one soda choice is Pepsi, followed by Mountain Dew, but I will drink most soft drinks.

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    1. Hey Ryan! I have got to try a Shamrock Shake this March! And it's really cool that they do something for St. Patrick's at all, especially for those of us who don't drink but still like to celebrate! I usually make a pot of Irish Stew and some brownies with green sprinkles and settle in for some great movies about being Irish, ha. The Disney ones are the best!

      I actually find I can't really handle most spicy chicken sandwiches. I do LOVE chicken though. I don't eat much fast food these days, but when I do, I think it's usually Chik-Fil-A, and occasionally Wendy's or Jack in the Box. I prefer sit down restaurants these days though, even if they can get pricey when you order a soda and tip 20 percent, and even more if you dare to order dessert. But, nicer experience and heartier meals. I'm a good cook though, so I eat at home more than anything, when I can afford stuff to cook, ha. I did it Jack in the Box way too much over the past year though, because it was the only place for lunch that was near my day-job. But, we just moved to a different area. I am going to have to start bringing a lunch if I want anything to eat, or else use the vending machines, ha. But, as for soda, with me it's mostly just Coke and Sprite. I dislike most others, but can take similar ones if I have no other choice. Oh, but back to Fast Food, yeah, another I get, possibly right after or as much as Chik-Fil-A, would be KFC. No idea which I like better (despite Chik's political views, oy). I grew up on McD's and BK, but their food doesn't do too much for me anymore, and I really don't usually find it worth the price. I mean, Big Mac's can be good and I do love their fries when I get soft ones, but it always comes out way more expensive than I expected. BK, well, I just don't like the charred taste. Sometimes you can get a good one. The first time I had a Whopper, I was very impressed, but after that I always seemed to get the charred tasting ones. I mainly loved both for their toys though, which I stopped collecting a few years ago. I was just storing most of them away, so there was little point. I never eat at Taco Bell, by the way, but I do love Pizza Hut, but I have never considered pizza fast food.

      I should probably add though, even if this is kinda weird, that even though I don't eat there much because I know it's not good for ya and because it's pricey on top of that, that I still really love McDonald's as an American icon. I mean, it's a nostalgic thing for me. Maybe it's because I grew up in the 80's. McD's commercials on Saturday mornings and at Christmas were so awesome! The toys, the characters (Hamburglar, Grimace, the Fry Guys, Birdie, Mayor McCheese...), the movie tie-ins beyond the Happy Meal toys, the awesome McDonaldland Cookies I would LOVE to find again someday... McDonald's was a huge part of the 80's childhood for most of us. It even leaves its mark in some of my favorite movies, like Santa Claus the Movie and Coming to America, ha. Lots of cherished memories with that place, even if I rarely go anymore.

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    2. Yeah, I'm a total non-drinker, so it's nice to have St. Patrick's Day traditions that don't involve alcohol :) All I usually do is eat sugar cookies with green sprinkles and put green food coloring in a glass of Sprite. Those Disney movies are great too! There's a movie from 1999 called "The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns" that I'm very interested in seeing. Maybe it could become a St Patty's Day viewing tradition. Have you ever watched it?

      I enjoy Taco Bell, mostly for their value menu however. Their value items are very filling and pretty tasty for only a dollar or two. I also enjoy KFC and BK, but I find that I'm never really in the mood to go to either place when I'm springing for fast food. I do remember a time when I was younger in which I was buying a lot of BK's kid meals. I believe they were offering Pokémon toys at the time, and I was a big Pokémon fan then. I remember collecting several of the toys, because they each came in their own red-and-white Pokémon ball. I don't know where they're at now though, or even if I kept them. Oh, I don't particularly care for Chik's political views, but I don't let that stop me from eating there. I try not to politicize food haha.

      I totally get what you're saying in regards to McDonalds place as an American icon. I grew up with the Golden Arches myself, and find myself still eating there from time to time just to relive my childhood eating habits. Certain items on the menu are particularly nostalgic, such as the Big Mac and the McNuggets. Since you mentioned all the McD's characters of old, do you happen to remember Mac Tonight? I don't recall the character, but my siblings remember him fondly.

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    3. Ryan, I believe the movie you're talking about was the NBC miniseries, right? I actually have never seen that one, though I can definitely recommend 10th Kingdom. After people recommended that one to me for YEARS, I finally saw it, and it was very good! Weird, goofy, but good, ha. I really need to get a copy. As for the Leprechaun one, I haven't heard great things, but I'm very curious to give it a shot! Of course, the ultimate St Patrick's Day movie is Darby O' Gill, and we also like to watch Happiest Millionaire, another Disney classic. Then, there's the Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman movie "Far and Away", and we also like to watch the Leprechaun horror films, ha. The first 2 at least. Though they're all fun.

      Same here on Chik Fil A and their political views. Their chicken is just too good to stop, ha, though I do not agree with them. And it's ironic, but you never want Chik Fil A more than on Sunday, when they're closed!!! Ha. But, I don't blame them for that. Must be nice for the employees! I just find it terribly inconvenient, ha.

      Oh, I totally remember Mac Tonight! He was a guy dressed like a Blues Brother, but his head was the half moon, ha. He was basically the man in the moon, or the moon itself really, ha. It was warped and ugly and I didn't like him at all, ha.

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    4. On the other hand, in regards to the Leprechaun movie, the customer reviews on Amazon are pretty much raving. Must be better than what I've heard, or maybe I'm thinking of the wrong flick. Definitely want to check it out eventually!

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  2. The leprechaun movie I'm talking about was a made-for-TV Hallmark production. I don't know if it's the same one you're reading about on Amazon, but if it stars Randy Quaid and Whoopi Goldberg, then you've got the right movie. I've never seen The Happiest Millionaire, but I have seen Darby O' Gill and I agree that it's a St. Patty's Day classic. IMO The Gnome-Mobile is another Disney live-action classic that makes for great St. Patrick's Day viewing. It's about gnomes admittedly, but I like to pair it up with Darby for a double-feature.

    Yeah, Googling images of Mac Tonight I'm struck by his rather odd appearance. From what it says on Wikipedia, the character is no longer used in any McDonald's advertisements. But I recently saw an advertisement for McDonald's new "After Midnight" late night mix-up menu and lo and behold, it appears Mac Tonight is serving as the mascot for this new menu unveiling! I don't know if it's actually him, or a new character who bears his likeness, but the resemblance is uncanny!

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    1. Hey Ryan! Yeah, I love the Gnome Mobile too, and as for the leprechaun movie I was thinking of, yes, the Quaid/Goldberg one IS the one I had been talking about. I really need to see it sometime. And definitely check out Happiest Millionaire if you ever get the chance!

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