The air’s getting crisp, which can only mean it’s time for people to freak out over the return of the McRib, the McDonald’s equivalent of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. But in announcing the release, a rep for the chain passes along some bad news: There’s been a precipitous decline in the number of franchisees selling the barbecue-drenched pseudo-rib sandwich this year. There are 14,350 McDonald’s locations, but the McRib will only be at 55 percent of them, down from about 75 percent last year.
Because franchisees already face stagnant sales, the thinking is that many were unwilling to gamble on an item the chain had to do a special Mythbusters-style video on to prove it contains actual meat. That means it’s probably destined to become a “regional favorite,” next to other limited-time offerings like the mid-Atlantic’s Old Bay Filet-O-Fish, or this new ground-chicken burger that just debuted in the Tampa Bay area (not coincidentally, there’s a local joint that’s popularized the idea). What region the McRib “belongs to” will still stir up vigorous debate, but win or lose, true fanatics can always book a flight to Germany, which is the only country where it’s available year-round.