McRib: Is It Really a Seasonal Thing?

The McRib has been a cult classic since its debut in the 1980s. Every October or November for the past few years, the same headlines appear when McDonald's McRib reappears in select locations across the country. The time McRib lovers across the country have been waiting for has come. A McDonald's statement attributed its “icon” status to the Internet and social media along with the founding of the phrase McRib Season more than forty years ago.

Some people think McRib is an abomination of 70 ingredients, while others can't get enough of the barbecue pork sandwich. According to CNN, the novelty surrounding the McRib is not just an advantage that comes with its seasonal status, but it is the driving force behind its appeal. The main reason McDonald's will never make the McRib a permanent fixture is the thrill of having a limited-edition menu. According to McDonald's, the rise of the Internet and social media helped cement McRib's reputation as a “fast-food mecca” and the “hype” around its annual return actually helped coin the slow food term season.

Alexander Chernev, professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, explains that one of the ways food industry makes marketing an important part of its strategy is by using seasonal products. The only clue to McRib's return was a teaser tweet asking followers to activate their notifications for the “biggest announcement”. As the love for the savory sandwich spread on the Internet, so did new tools such as the “McRib Locator”, which opened the door to even more fans. Mike Bullington, senior file manager at McDonald's, said in a statement that the idea of the sandwich was “to enjoy it during the colder seasons”.

McDonald's also offered December without shaving, during which 10% of all attendees received a free McRib. Although it has a devoted fan base, it is likely that it will never secure a permanent place on McDonald's menu. The main reason for this is because McDonald's does this for a limited time because it sells so many, which in fact affect the price of pork in the market. Having McRib all year round means you pay more for your babies in store.

The novelty surrounding McRib is not just an advantage that comes with its seasonal status, but it is also what drives its appeal. The rise of social media and Internet has helped cement McRib's reputation as a “fast-food mecca” and even gave rise to the phrase 'McRib season'. Mike Bullington said that it was made to be “enjoyed during colder seasons” and that is why it will never be a permanent fixture on McDonald's menu.

Tristan Gagliardo
Tristan Gagliardo

Proud social media ninja. Bacon expert. Unapologetic gamer. Proud zombie nerd. Freelance pop culture scholar.

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