Friday, February 4, 2011

TBG Eats: McDonald's McRib

Current Weight: 166.2 lbs.

On January 3rd, I stepped on the scale for the first time in several days. The six weeks or so between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day had been filled with enormous home-cooked holiday meals, a nonstop conga line of seasonal confections and That Bootleg Family's annual escape-the-leftovers, end-of-the-year spike in casual-dining restaurant patronage.

I wasn't surprised to see that I now weighed a little over 175 lbs.

The armchair psychiatrist might opine that I'm still carrying around deep-seated "fat kid" issues from my morbidly obese adolescence. In truth, it's the seat of my 34-inch-waist work slacks that are considerably less deep when I'm carrying more than 170 lbs. In my mind, I could drop five pounds with relative ease. In the morning, I'd wash down a granola bar with my usual two quarts of coffee. I'd spend the rest of the work day grazing on my omnipresent plastic bowl of fresh fruit. For dinner, I'd limit myself to one serving -- the only hard part of my dietary adventure -- and cut out craft beers.

By the end of that week, I'd dropped down to 171.2 lbs. and was back to filling my stomach with
deep-fried chicken biscuits. On Friday, January 7, I woke up with a sore throat. My immune system usually isn't all that hospitable to the common cold and after 48-72 hours; I've returned to the picture of perfect health.

Instead, this bug lingered for a full week before mutating into full-blown "feeling like absolute crap" over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. MLK Day is not a day off at my job, so I honored the memory of arguably the greatest American of the 20th century by keeping my black ass at home.

(I briefly entertained the notion of going into work and leaving at lunchtime, just so I could tweet: "In honor of Dr. King, I'm leaving before my work is done." But, the list of black guys who could get away with that admittedly offensive line is limited to Chris Rock (1996-2002), Dave Chappelle (2003-04) and maybe Tracy Morgan (2010-present).)

The next day, I called my doctor's office and...
this happened.

I finally got in to see my doctor on Thursday, January 20. He prescribed five days worth of antibiotics and by Sunday the 23rd, I felt noticeably better. Two days after that, the sore throat and congestion came back. I had honestly gotten back to nearly 90% of normal before sliding back into sick. By the end of January, I'd beaten back infirmity's second act.

Then, on February 2nd, I sent out the following tweet:

I've either caught my third cold since New Year's or I've been sick for 33 straight days. Not sure which scenario I should be rooting for.

And, I'm still carrying this week's ick as of this writing. I've lost nearly ten pounds since the start of the year, but I'd take back every one -- and the accompanying slacks-related snugness -- for one solid week of good health. Now, I don't know how many of those pounds can be attributed to McDonald's McRib sandwich, but I did order one late last year just so I could give it the "TBG Eats" treatment.

Every review of the McRib is required to reference the oft-told history of the sandwich. Here's what I remember: I first heard of the McRib in 1987 or 1988. These were the early years of America's ten-year run (1985-1994) of food and drink gimmicks that polarized our populace, including -- but, not limited to -- the
McDLT, New Coke, Crystal Pepsi and Stuffed Crust Pizza.

When the McRib was removed from McDonald's menu, it lived on as a national punch-line for years. I vividly remember Arsenio Hall, of all people, killing with a stand-up bit that cited a failure to connect with "McNegroes" as the reason for the McRib's demise. Killing! Arsenio!

Thanks to some especially deft marketing -- a few years ago, McDonald's poured millions into simultaneous "McRib Farewell Tour" AND "Bring Back the McRib" campaigns -- the sandwich has developed a cult following like few other nationally known fast food items. Now, it randomly returns once a year or so for a few weeks at a time. Everyone caught up? Cool.

The McRib is created by molding boneless pork into the shape of an ersatz rack of ribs. It's then drenched in barbecue sauce and topped with onions and pickles and nestled into a six-inch corn-dusted roll.

This sandwich's most memorable characteristics won't find their way into the 2011 promotional plan. The spongy texture of the meat has to be eaten to be believed. It actually "squishes" with the first few chews, but without any of the jagged texture of real ribs. Between my teeth, it reminded me of those Brown & Serve-brand processed breakfast sausages. And, for obvious reasons, the meat is drowning in sauce. I haven't seen this much gratuitous crimson since
Suge Knight was still alive.

The flavor of the meat barely registers a bit of pork essence; so what you're left with is the kind of barbecue sauce sandwich I might've eaten back in the day, because barbecue sauce and bread were the only items in my refrigerator. On that level, it's actually edible. The sauce has that high fructose corn syrup quality straight from the bottle and the chewiness of the roll seems more appropriate than with the Superball-inspired spare ribs inside.

The McRib didn't entirely connect with this McNegro, either.


Grade: 1.5 (out of 5) Calories: 500 Fat: 26g


Lew B said...

Never was much of a McD's fan. Except for the Sausage McMuffin w Egg. I remember when they would run that loss-leader for 2 for $1.50. Then it was 2 for $2. Now it's a regular "special" at 2 for tree-fit-ee (as the Loch Ness Monster would say to Chef's dad in South Park). When they get up to "2 for 4" I'm out.

CrazyCanuck said...

Having spent the last six weeks fighting C-Defficile, there is only so much sympathy your sinuses are going to get from me. However, the oxygen mask picture is always a good play.

In spite of the tastelessness of the Dr. King line, the thought of you delivering said line, and the possible facial reactions of the recipients, absolutely slayed me. Every anonymous defence contractor needs more attitude (at least of the rebellious kind).

SHough610 said...

I almost made a joke about the defense industry being involved in MLK's assassination but couldn't pull it off.

I can't believe I've never had a McRib, maybe I'll try one this afternoon.

And off-topic, if you watch the Deion commercial with Jerry Jones you can see Jerry sticking it to the NFL by having a can of Pepsi in the background. I don't know if the NFL was sponsored by Coke or just not involved in the Cola wars but Jerry Jones got Pepsi to sponsor the Cowboys and it was a big deal.

Aaron C. said...

@Lew -- No argument from me. I don't even think their self-described "world famous" fries are all that good. It's the sausage McGriddle or bust for me.

@Canuck -- Y'know, I literally came *this* close to cutting the MLK line out of this post. I look at some of my early stuff at 411mania and cringe at some of my puerile snark.

@Sam -- I remember when all hell broke loose after Jones struck a side deal with Nike for their logo to adorn the Cowboys jerseys and the stadium. Seems positively quaint now.