- Nov 16, 2002
Ain't got no stinking title yet!
McDonald's McRib is returning to menus across America for the first time in 8 years, sparking celebration among the obsessive fans of the cult-classic sandwich
The battle for the McRib has been a long one, hardily fought by fans of the polarizing sandwich. Now they're seeing results.
McDonald's is finally bringing the McRib back to menus across the US after years of demands from desperate superfans of the sandwich.
The McRib is set to return to menus nationally on December 2, according to leaked documents published on a website called McRibGate and confirmed to Business Insider by a McDonald's employee.
"I can't believe it's happening," Matt, who runs McRibGate and asked to use only his first name, told Business Insider via Twitter DM.
McDonald's confirmed the national return of the McRib to Business Insider on Friday.
"The McRib has been a beloved menu item at McDonald's since its inception nearly 40 years ago," Linda VanGosen, McDonald's vice president of menu innovation, said in a statement. "There's nothing quite like the taste of the McRib. To our customers, it's become more than a delicious, saucy moment… it's a season, and it's taking the internet by storm. That's why this year, we're proud to serve the McRib nationwide for everyone to enjoy."
This is the first time since 2012 that McDonald's will roll out the sandwich across the US. In the past the chain has sold the McRib regionally, leaving some fans of the sandwich desperately searching for the limited-time menu item.
Read more: McDonald's All Day Breakfast might have disappeared forever, as workers and franchisees rally against the beloved menu
McRib fans have been chasing the sandwich for almost 40 years
A McRib sign atop a McDonald's in San Francisco in 2010, when the sandwich arrived on the menu for the first time since 1994. David Paul Morris/Getty Images)
In 1982, McDonald's debuted the McRib: a pork patty molded into the shape of a rack of ribs, topped with pickles and onions. Rene Arend, McDonald's first executive chef and the inventor of the McNugget, told Maxim in 2009 that he created the McRib after feasting on pulled-pork sandwiches on a trip to Charleston, South Carolina.
But the McRib lacked the McNuggets' star power. McDonald's soon decided that the sandwich worked best as a limited-time item. For years the sandwich would appear and disappear from McDonald's menus, driven by franchisees' desire to sell it and the national supply (and price) of pork trimmings.
McDonald's threw three farewell tours for the McRib, in 2005, 2006, and 2007, then for a few years the sandwich popped up regionally as a limited-time offering. The sandwich returned to the national menu from 2010 to 2012 before disappearing again in 2013. Since then, the sandwich has been available as a regional, limited-time menu item.
The unpredictable nature of the sandwich forced the cult of the McRib to take matters into its own hands.
Alan Klein created the McRib Locator in 2008 to help customers find the elusive sandwich. Klein told Business Insider that he and other McRib fans had been forced to drive for hours to get their hands on the sandwich. He recalled the story of a group of friends who drove from Colorado to New Mexico to buy $300 worth of McRibs that they then handed out to people back in Colorado Springs.
"I personally like seeing that — where people are out, trying to help," Klein said. "It's sort of the same thing I do."
While the McRib has long had a cult following, social media helped fans of the sandwich find each other and organize.
Matt bought the domain McRibGate.com five years ago and started campaigning for the McRib in earnest on social media a few years later, in 2018.
Matt told Business Insider that, at the time, he hadn't eaten a McRib since 2010 or 2011, when he was in college. Matt found himself checking the McRib Locator on random days of the year, hoping that a nearby McDonald's would start selling the sandwich. McDonald's decision to briefly bring back the McRib regionally only made him more frustrated.
"They kept hyping it up more and more and just teasing the McRib lovers with something they'd never get," Matt said.
Klein said a community of McRib fans had formed online. There are the "ultra fans" who get upset at the lack of McRibs at local McDonald's. DIY-minded McRib lovers make their own versions of the sandwich. Organizers like Matt have tried to petition McDonald's to bring back the McRib permanently or at least nationally.
"In a year as challenging as this year has been, to throw a little McRib out there to those that really want to have it, it feels like something that would be a pretty nice gesture," Klein said.
Matt acknowledged that there are bigger issues than the McRib in 2020. In messages on Thursday, he voiced support for the Black Lives Matter movement and encouraged people to vote in the election next week.
Still, in a tumultuous year, the return of the McRib feels like a win for Matt and other McRib devotees.
"I hope McRibGate is ended for good and McDonald's doesn't dare think of offering it at select locations again and restarting the fight," Matt said.
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