The Fascinating Story Behind the Creation of the McRib

The McRib is a beloved fast food item that has been around since 1979. But what led to its creation? It all started with a shortage of chickens and a trip to South Carolina. Roger Mandigo, an emeritus professor of animal science at the University of Nebraska, is credited with the technology that made the McRib possible. McDonald's was looking for a quick solution to keep their customers happy during the chicken shortage of 1979. The inspiration for the McRib came from Southern BBQ, as McDonald's executive R. C.

Arend was trying to capture the flavor of the shredded pork sandwiches he had enjoyed in South Carolina. The challenge was to make it easier and less complicated to serve on a larger scale. Arend decided to shape the McRib pie like a slab of ribs, despite the fact that a round burger would have been cheaper to make and serve on standard hamburger buns. The McRib is made from boneless picnic pork, a cut that is known to be hard and oily, but certainly edible with a little magic.

That process for forming the McRib specifically involves the use of salt to extract proteins and use them to bind meats into a shape. The military partnered with several companies to make the meat product tastier, which led to its use in the private sector. It all started in the late 1960s, at a military research center in Natick, Massachusetts. The Internet woke up to a (now defunct) website asking for signatures for a false petition for the McRib to remain forever, and the fictitious Boneless Pig Farmers Association of the United States sponsored the rallying cry. A McRib will provide you with 36 percent of your daily salt intake; if that's a lot to you, it's because it is.

But considering McDonald's infatuation with salt, it's not such a bad choice at the Golden Arches. The McRib is so popular that there's even a website dedicated to locating it, called the McRib Locator. So why does it cause such a stir and is it really worthy of all the hype? Is it really rib meat, and why can't they leave it on the menu? You may think you know what goes on between those buns, but you don't really know the whole story of the famous McRib. McDonald's stumbled upon something quite special with the McRib, a sandwich from the king of quick service that stops people doing what they're doing and head to the Golden Arches every time it appears on the menu again, no matter how long (and slow) the self-service line is.

Tristan Gagliardo
Tristan Gagliardo

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

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