Thursday, October 28, 2010


It’s all in the marketing.

The McRib has got to be one of the most successful failures of all time. And it is back, for a limited time.

The McRib being available only for a limited time is why it is so successful. McDonald’s gives you the right to have it, but only occasionally. So we must eat as many of them as possible when we have the chance.

The McRib debuted on McDonald’s menus in 1981. It sold ok, but not great. It was not worth keeping around full time. But the people that liked it, really liked it.

So they brought it back, only to take it away again. And this has gone on ever since, like some cruel joke.

The very first McDonald's Executive Chef came up with McRib after eating pulled pork in Charleston, SC. Would just making this a round sandwich make more sense? Well sure, but what is the fun in that. A sandwich that looks like a rack of ribs, but of course has no ribs, now that’s something. It is also not really rib meat, but shoulder meat. But if you are a fan, you are probably not a stickler on those details.

The sandwich came back strong as a promotion for the Flintstones movie in 1994. In 2005, McDonald’s had a farewell tour, followed by another, along with a campaign to save the sandwich. “The McRib was like the Who,” says McDonald’s Head Chef Dan Coudreaut.

There has also been a campaign to help the “Boneless Pig Farmers Association of America.”

People who have had to wait for McDonald’s to oblige nationally, have banded together to help each other out. There is a McRib locator website ( If you have seen a McRib, please go to this website and type in when and where. It is kind of like spotting a UFO, only a little less scary.

The Simpson’s even had a takeoff on the cult status of the sandwich. Homer followed the Ribwich (made by Krusty Burger of course) all around the country. He had to stop when the animal that was used for the Ribwich became extinct.

McDonald’s is cooperating again starting November 2nd. For the first time since 1994, the sandwich will be available nationwide. No more following it around like a Deadhead in order to get your fix. For 6 glorious weeks, it is ours, as long as you have a McDonald’s in your area. And if you do not, how are you reading this online article?

Is marketing not important? Remember the MCDLT? It didn’t last long. The “hot side hot and the cool side cool,” just seemed like too much work I guess. Now, remember the Big & Tasty? Same sandwich, far more successful. Different packaging.

That very first executive chef for McDonald’s that invented the McRib, is named Rene Arend. Just 1 year earlier, in 1980, he had introduced the world to the McNugget.

Rene Arend deserves to be a household name.

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