Thursday, November 03, 2011

McRib

This country is funny sometimes. Take, for instance, the McRib. Every once in a while, McDonald's will bring their rib-shaped (but not made of actual rib meat), barbecue sauce-laden pork sandwich out of retirement for a few weeks. And in the process, people go nuts! "OMG! MCRIB IS BACK!!!" Perhaps you are aware of the impressive cult following that the McRib pork sandwich has.

I've never had a McRib before, so I made it a mission as part of last weekend's road trip: don't return home without having my first ever McRib.


My verdict: it was okay. Not bad, but not better than you would get from a local barbecue restaurant. And perhaps that gets to the root of why the McRib is only available on a "limited time" basis.

People don't go to fast food restaurants to eat pork. They come to eat, for the most part, beef and chicken. Beef and chicken are easy to mass-produce in a way that the general public will approve, because not too much customization goes into it. Pork, on the other hand...well, for one thing, pork is not as popular a meat as beef and chicken. But on top of that, pork is cooked differently everywhere you go. Different sauces, different pig parts, different cooking methods, you name it. And everyone is very particular about that. I don't think it's possible to mass-produce a pork sandwich that will be well accepted all across the country. That is, unless you turn it into a novelty item by only selling it for a few weeks at a time, and market it very well in the process, as McDonald's has done.

As fast food goes, a McRib really isn't that unhealthy. But the reputation among food elitists is that the McRib is basically processed garbage. But they say the same thing about hot dogs, I'm sure, and I like hot dogs, so...meh.

But the fact remains, the McRib is just your average pork sandwich with barbecue sauce, and local barbecue restaurants everywhere (Eastern North Carolina excluded) do pork better. Good pork is all about the personal touch. I don't think the McRib frenzy has anything to do with the quality of the sandwich itself. I think it's just a plea for mainstream fast food to embrace "The Other White Meat" more than they do. But is that really what we want? Wouldn't we rather leave premier pork preparation up to the local joints? I know I would.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

You forgot to mention the Ribwich!!!