McDonald's McRib sandwich has been a part of the fast-food chain's menu since 1981. But why is it only offered occasionally and so randomly? To understand this, we need to look at the history of the McRib and how it came to be. The goal of a restaurant like McDonald's, when adding a menu item, is to attract new customers who would not have eaten at a McDonald's or to get current customers to choose an item with a larger margin than they would have ordered otherwise. This brings us to the McRib, a confluence of the work of several people and an accident in history. That is, it exists because McDonald's underestimated the demand for chicken McNuggets and needed an additional item to offer to balance things out a bit.
McDonald's McRib, a sandwich that has 70 ingredients but no rib meat, was first introduced in 1981 and wasn't very successful. Despite its initial failure, the McRib has made sporadic appearances on McDonald's menus over the years. The story of its continued return and disappearance is explained in Today I Found Out. It turns out that McDonald's has been using the McRib as a promotional tool for decades.
By offering it only occasionally and randomly, they can create hype and excitement around the sandwich. This helps to draw in customers who may not have visited McDonald's otherwise. The McRib also serves as a way for McDonald's to test out new ingredients and recipes without having to commit to them long-term. This allows them to experiment with different flavors and ingredients without having to worry about customer backlash if they don't like it.
So there you have it: the mysterious story of the McRib. It exists because McDonald's underestimated the demand for chicken McNuggets and needed an additional item to offer to balance things out a bit. And it continues to make sporadic appearances on McDonald's menus because they use it as a promotional tool and as a way to test out new ingredients and recipes.