Fast Food

The Twisted History of the McRib

Mmm, McRib.
Mmm, McRib. Photo: Bradlby via Flickr

Whet Moser has a great blog post at Chicago Magazine about the “barbecue” item barbecue guys love to hate: McDonald’s 100% unreal McRib, that artificially ribbed-for-your-dining-pleasure pork creation which came out of a lab straight into America’s heart (appropriately enough, as it turns out). You’ll learn a lot about industrial food today.

For instance, take this quote from the man who pioneered the technology that led to the thing in the first place, reconstituted meat product wizard Roger Mandigo:

“Most people would be extremely unhappy if they were served heart or tongue on a plate,” he observed. “But flaked into a restructured product it loses its identity. Such products as tripe, heart, and scalded stomachs are high in protein, completely edible, wholesome, and nutritious, and most are already used in sausage without objection.”

But as Moser observes, all that means is that the line between what McDonald’s does and what fine dining is about these days is getting narrower— a thought that came to us last night at Next Childhood, as we ate a chicken noodle soup with noodles made of chicken, and were served from a Ronald McDonald thermos:

The funny thing about it is that everyone’s in on the joke. It’s clearly not a rib. Until I started reading up on it, I had no idea what was in a McRib. And I’m actually less grossed out by the concept now that I have a sense of what’s in it. Tripe? Ok, that’s cool. But ten years ago the idea of tripe would have made me queasy. I had to go all the way around and come back to accept the McRib.

The Invention of the McRib and Why It Disappears from McDonald’s [Chicago Magazine]

The Twisted History of the McRib