Ode to the McRib

I live right by a McDonald’s. The other day I noticed a new sign, it said that “The McRib is back!” So I walked right inside and ordered one. I love the McRib. I love everything about it, the delicious pork taste, no bones, barbeque sauce, pickles, onions. “Sorry sir, but the McRib just came back today, so, yeah, we can sell you one, but we don’t have the bread.” “That’s fine,” I said, trying not to betray my disappointment, “I’ll still take it.”

Why not just wait a day? If you don’t have the McRib bread, why even advertise, “McRib!” Why put it back on the menu? How about a sign that says, “McRib … coming soon!” I love McDonald’s, but I wouldn’t have gone in right that second had I known they were only selling something like a McRib, something that kind of looked and tasted like the McRib, but didn’t give me the whole McRib experience.

Part of what makes the McRib so unique is its unconventional shape. It’s like an oval. The bread is almost this mini baguette. It follows that it must be sold in a fitted rectangle box. The cashier handed me my bag, I brought it home, opened it up, and it was a regular square box. I didn’t know what to expect.

It wasn’t the same at all. They didn’t even put it on a regular bun, like a Big Mac bun or a Quarter Pounder bun. They put it on one of those specialty buns, something used for those fancy sandwiches that nobody ever orders anyway. It tasted good. But I was so annoyed. Every once in a while you’re at a barbeque in the summer, and there’s always tons of hamburgers and hot dogs, and it always happens, but towards the end of the party, there are always like five hotdogs left but all of the hotdog buns have been used up. But you’re so hungry, it doesn’t matter, you say to yourself, I’ll just use a hamburger bun. And then when you eat it and it doesn’t satisfy at all your craving for a hotdog you stand there, swallowing the last few bites, staring at that empty paper plate, thinking to yourself, huh, that doesn’t make any sense. It’s bread and a hotdog. Why does the shape at all alter the eating experience?

I don’t know. I don’t have any good answers. But it does. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that some bites are going to be too heavily stacked with meat whereas other bites are going to be way too much bun. And with the McRib, this is simply unacceptable. I want every bite to have exactly the same proportions of pork, pickle, onion, sauce, and bread. Haphazardly throwing it on same knockoff artisanal loaf didn’t even come close to making it work. And let’s not forget about the rectangle box. It has to be a rectangle box. I could just tell that my McRib patty was forced in the square box, like it didn’t fit at all. The whole thing was a mess.

I went back the next day and had myself a McRib proper. What a relief. I was worried that my not so stellar McRib experience might have ruined the McRib for me altogether. But it didn’t. And that’s good, because the McRib is only a temporary item. Like I don’t know if there’s any pattern to when they bring it back, but when it comes back it’s like having one of those dreams where there’s a totally new room in your house that was always there but for some reason you never went inside, and now that you’re aware of its existence, you’re making all of these plans, like maybe it can be a game room, or a work area. You’re dream brain is filled with possibilities. But then you wake up and, bam, it was a dream. No dream room.

It’s the same with the McRib. I don’t know how long they’ll keep it back on the menu, but it’s never long enough. I promise myself every time the McRib comes back that this time I’m really going to make the most out of its availability. But I’ll always only ever buy it four or five times, tops, and then just when it’s there, just when it’s earned a place on the forefront of my consciousness, so when every time I get hungry, I automatically start thinking, McRib, I’ll walk into McDonald’s and it’s like, “Sorry, no more McRib.” “What? None? You don’t have any more McRibs? Come on. You have to have something. Nothing? I don’t care about the bread, please. Please!” McDonald’s, why do you have to do this to me? Why can’t you just keep it on the menu full time?

I’ve been toying around with the idea of doing a little project similar to that movie Super Size Me, but instead of eating only McDonald’s every day for a month, I’m going to limit myself to just McRibs, every meal, every day for a month. I don’t think it would be bad. I’m pretty convinced that the only reason that filmmaker suffered so many negative side effects was because he was wasting too much time on weird menu items, like salads, apple pies and ice cream cones. But just the McRib? That’s got everything. Meat, bread, vegetables. I could do it. And I’d love it. I’m going to go to McDonald’s right now just to make sure it’s still on the menu. I’m not going to order one though, because I’m so stupid, I got hungry earlier and I went to Subway. I totally forgot about the McRib. And how could I? I’m telling you, that’s how it is. It’s a dream sandwich, elusive, by the time you wrap your mind around it being there, poof, it’s gone.

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