McDonald's McRib sandwich.

McDonald's McRib sandwich. Credit: AP

No bones about it, the McRib sandwich is once again up for grabs at McDonald's. But only until mid-November, when it ends its limited run. The boneless pork patty — formed into the shape of a rack of ribs, smothered in bbq sauce, topped with pickles and onions and tucked inside a torpedo-shaped bun — has commanded a devoted following ever since it made its debut, back in 1981. It was introduced originally as a limited time item (according to Jessica Melendez, marketing manager for McDonald’s New York metro region) and has been reappearing sporadically ever since,

“I was in college when I first had one,” said Andrea Baldassare of Northport, assistant manager of a Northport veterinary clinic directly across the road from the Golden Arches.  “The sauce is delicious,” she said. Her friend and colleague, Sue Renick of Kings Park, is a fan, too.  “As soon as I saw that the McRib was back, Andrea and I were there right at lunch time.”  The two women were gratified to find their sandwiches as saucy as ever (Renick noted that the amount of sauce can vary from one sandwich to the next). Forget knives and forks;  this sandwich was designed to be eaten out of hand. “A little messy,” said Baldassare, “but worth it.”

Michael Kennedy of Brentwood recently headed over to the McDonald's in Melville, a short distance from his office. It was the siren song of the McRib that drew him there. “It’s a treat,” Kennedy said. “I remember it from when I was a teenager, about 20 years ago.” Back then, he said, the sandwich seemed bigger — but then again, he added, most everything did.

As one who harbors no fond memories of the McRib, I bit into one ($2.99) with expectancy. With all the places on Long Island offering real slow-smoked barbecue, McDonald's sandwich seemed  — well, fake. The consistency of the meat was more reminiscent of a burger than a rib — even a rib stripped from its bone. The sauce smothering the patty and running out the bun tasted overwhelmingly of liquid smoke (its primary ingredient is high fructose corn syrup and it derives its “smokiness” from “natural smoke flavor [plant source]"). Extra points, though, for the contrast offered by the pickles and onions, cutting the sandwich's  sweetness a bit.

Yet who wants to argue with the sweet taste of nostalgia? Just check out all the posts on Facebook and Twitter to get a handle on the fierce force of this saucy sandwich.


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