Fast Food

How The McRib Became A Magical, Mysterious, Disappearing Fast Food Sensation

Ever since its debut on McDonald’s menus in 1981, the McRib has been a popular Golden Arches staple. Throughout its sticky existence, the McRib has garnered adoration from fans so strong that they’ll drive hundreds of miles for their favorite sandwich. The “McFib” has also earned its share of revulsion, confusion, and most of all, curiosity.

What is it made of? (Spoiler alert: It will probably gross you out.) Why isn’t it a permanent menu item? (That’s complicated.) Where does it go when it's off-schedule? (Probably the same mythical place as the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.)

Whether you love it or hate it, how this “boneless pork” sandwich came into existence - and why it stuck around - is one of the more fascinating tales from the pages of food history. The McRib was not simply whipped up one day by a creative McDonald’s cook on a whim. It took more than a decade to finalize, and was a massive cooperative effort between military food scientists, gourmet chefs, the USDA Marketing Service, special trade interests, and some hilarious marketing campaigns.