Rib Chasers: The history of a sandwich that keeps on keepin’ on

The McRib -- the drippy, delectable, McDonald’s phenomenon of yesteryear -- is back to celebrate its 35th anniversary, and fans are psyched. But how can one call himself a fan if he doesn’t know that rich McRib history?


November 6, 2017

The McRib — the drippy, delectable, McDonald’s phenomenon of yesteryear — is back to celebrate its 35th anniversary, and fans are psyched. But how can one call himself a fan if he doesn’t know that rich McRib history?

Here are the deets on its roller-coaster journey into the cultish hearts of mystery-pork-lovin’ fans everywhere.

It all started with chicken

Amidst a 1979 chicken shortage, McDonald’s went looking for a quick fix to keep their customers smiling. Thus, the McRib was born.

After locking down its iconic shape as well as its 70-ingredients (including a flour-bleaching agent used in foam plastics), the chain began serving the sandwich in ‘81.

But in 1985, it vanished

Mouths were sad. Hope was lost. But the unwieldy disappearance only made the public yearn for that sweet meat even more.

Over the years, the ever-elusive barbecue lathered meat hoagie made random, short-lived appearances here and there, until it finally made a home for itself on the menu for ~10 years, from ‘94 to the beginning of ‘05. Then, it disappeared again.

Ronald the sadist?

It seems the restaurant’s on again, off again relationship with the McRib is some kind of cruel marketing ploy, and the fast food juggernaut has never fully confirmed why. This has spawned some pretty interesting fan-spiracies.

Some claim that the McRib only rears its head when pork prices are down in order to guarantee profit, which can only mean one thing: maybe the McRib fanbase isn’t nearly as big as we’re lead to believe.

HAHAHAHA, knock-knock, it’s the crazy-police, are you in there???

Whatever the reason, their silence is winning

From a fan-created McRib locator website to its very own iPhone app, the enigmatic quasi-menu item has toyed with the heartstrings of fans for an amazing 35 years, earning a feat that few hot-ticket items can claim.

It has also revealed that some people have wayyyy too much time on their hands.

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