Fast Food Nation

The book about the "darkside of the American meal."

Super Size Me

The fascinating documentary film about a man on a McDonald's-only diet.

Fat Land

How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World.

Deconstructing McRib -- the story, the photographs...

In late 2005, the global fast food giant McDonald's announced the 'Farewell Tour' of the McRib sandwich. (Frankly, I don't believe McRib will be retired permanently, but more on that later.) The reappearance of the McRib reminded me of my lifelong fascination with the marketing and culinary mind set that creates a boneless rib sandwich with a pressed meat patty made to look like it has bones in it. I mean, that's weird, right?
    McRib Trivia (from McDonald's)
  • Every year McDonald's purchases 250,000,000 pounds of pork.
  • The McRib sandwich as been mentioned twice on David Letterman's "Top 10 List."
  • Each McRib sandwich is actually submerged in tangy BBQ sauce.
  • The McRib sandwich was first introduced to the public in 1982.
  • The McRib sandwich sports 2 pickles and .25 ounces of onions.
  • The McRib sandwich was spoofed in The Simpsons episode #303.

So, knowing I'd never understand the thought process that created it, I decided to 'deconstruct' the McRib sandwich itself. Hence the photos below.

But first, a little history: The McRib was introduced in 1981 and was a regular item on the menu for several years. Over time McRib became a 'special' menu item and was only available in select regions at various times. It became part of popular food culture with mentions on Letterman's Top 10 list and The Simpsons.

Today McDonald's has even taken to self-mockery with regards to the McRib. They've created the fictitious "Boneless Pig Farmers of America" web site (

But now, with McDonald's threat or tease about retiring the McRib, there are petitions on the net in favor and opposed to keeping the McRib around. And, of course, there's a petition at McDonald's official McRib site.

And what about that fancy web site that offers logos you can download for t-shirt iron-ons, trivia and games related to McRib and begs the question, "Why spend all the money if the sandwich is going away?" It's not. It's just a revival of that perennial anomaly of the rib-less rib-meat sandwich.

The 'deconstruction':

Whether or not it would continue to be around, I decided one day that I wanted to 'see inside' the McRib. Rest assured, I wasn't expecting to find ribs in there. I knew better. But I wanted to know what that 'meat' patty looked like without the sauce. And I wanted to know what was inside.

The photos below show what I discovered from the moment I came home and opened the McDonald's bag to the moment I laid out the filleted McRib patty on the cutting board. Just click on a photo to enlarge it in a new window. Enjoy!   {comments?}

Click photos to enlarge
Click to enlarge: Right out of the bag, still in the wrapper.

Right out of the bag, still in the wrapper.
Click to enlarge: Just unwrapped.

Just unwrapped.

Click to enlarge: A look under the bun.

A look under the bun.
Click to enlarge: With the pickles and onions removed.

With the pickles and onions removed.
Click to enlarge: With the sauce washed off.

With the sauce washed off.
Click to enlarge: This is the 'bottom,' apparently the 'ribs' are only pressed on the top.

This is the 'bottom,' apparently the 'ribs' are only pressed on the top.

Click to enlarge: McRib sliced in half... this is the 'meat' inside.

McRib sliced in half... this is the 'meat' inside.
Click to enlarge: a close up of the fileted McRib.

a close up of the fileted McRib.

You can leave comments about this page and the McRib at my McRib blog entry at Fast Food News.

McRib Nutritional Info:
490 calories, 220 calories from fat, 25 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 75 mg cholesterol, 1040 mb sodium, 44 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 24 g protein, 11 g sugars.

McRib Ingredients
McRib Patty: Boneless pork (Pork, water, salt, dextrose, citric acid, BHA, TBHQ).
McRib Bun: Flour (wheat flour bleached and enriched with thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, iron, folic acid, malted barley flour), water, high fructose corn syrup, yeast, vegetable oil (partially hydrogenated soybean oil, cottonseed oil). Contains 2 percent or less of dextrose, fumaric acid, calcium sulphate, salt, acetic acid, soy flour, monocalcium phosphate, ammonium sulphate, cornstarch, fungal protease, natural culture, ammonium chloride, ascorbic acid, azodicarbomide, mono- and diglycerides, propionic acid, phosphoric acid, corn flour, calcium peroxide, calcium propionate, dicetyl tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides.
McRib Sauce: Water, high fructose corn syrup, tomato paste, distilled vinegar, molasses, natural smoke flavor, modified food starch, salt, sugar, soybean oil, spices, onion*, mustard flour, garlic *, xanthan gum, caramel color, sodium benzoate (preservative), natural flavor (vegetable source), corn oil. *Dehydrated
Pickle Slices
Cucumbers, water, vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, alum, natural flavorings (vegetable source), polysorbate 80, turmeric (color).
Slivered Onions

Allergens: Wheat, Soybean Food Sensitivities: Gluten