The McRib Returns

Mike Krumboltz
The Newsroom

It's like running through a field of four-leaf clovers. It's like finding a unicorn chillin' at the fountain of youth. It's like a hundred Christmases slathered in barbecue sauce. It's the return of the McDonald's McRib sandwich. And, to many people, it's an event to get excited about.

The McRib phenomenon is something special in fast food. It's an incredibly popular pork sandwich (cut to look like a short stack of ribs) that only appears once every so often. Despite fans clamoring for it to become a full-time member of the McDonald's menu, the folks at the Golden Arches unleash its pork-flavored fury only once in a while. That time is now.

In times past, the McRib has appeared just once a year at select restaurants. This caused devoted (or maybe cheerfully addicted) disciples of the sandwich to drive hundreds of miles out of their way to acquire this beast of a meal. It was as much about the pursuit as it was the taste.

This year is different. The McRib (which contains 26 grams of fat, FYI), will appear at every Mickey D's for six weeks. Why is it so popular? An excellent article from Sharon Bernstein quotes one Brian Goodman, 27, of Grand Forks, N.D., talking about his devotion to the sandwich: "I am a huge fan of the McRib, and I am glad to have it back," he said. "I just happen to find this really gross, deformed pork patty to be delicious." That pretty much says it all.

The sandwich was lampooned during an episode of "The Simpsons" in which Homer drove all over the country to different Krusty Burger restaurants in search of a McRib-type sandwich. Once the Simpsons makes fun of you, you know you've become part of pop culture.

McDonald's spokeswoman Tara Hayes told AFP that the McRib's limited availability "helps to keep fans passionate about the product." Only a sandwich "so delicious, so special, so elusive, and so legendary could create such a widespread affection among its fans," Hayes said, pointing out the last time it had been offered in all restaurants nationwide was in 1994.

Indeed, the McRib's cult following is something that many acknowledge, but few can explain. There may be basic psychology at play -- people want it all the time because they can only get it every so often. It's like a sandwich that plays hard to get.

Plenty of people are pulling out all the stops to nab one (or 12) for themselves. Web searches on "mcrib mcdonald's" are up over 1,000% and related lookups on "mcrib locator" are also through the roof. Just remember to chew before you swallow.

- Mike Krumboltz writes for Yahoo!.

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