It’s like the Brett Favre of fast food.
McDonald’s announced on Monday that the McRib, usually available only when individual restaurants feel like making it, will be sold at all U.S. locations through Nov. 14.
The boneless patty, dressed with onions, pickle slices and barbecue sauce, was introduced nationally in 1982, developed after the company’s then-president decided to add pork to the menu.
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Improbably, the McRib has a cult following spanning Facebook groups and Twitter tags. There’s even a McRib Locator, a website where true believers can report McRib sightings and even truer believers can take a road trip when one shows up within driving distance.
Like all cult favorites, the sandwich was not initially popular outside the Midwest and was removed in 1985 as McDonald’s executives determined that pork is not eaten frequently enough in the U.S. to stay on the menu.
Since then, the sandwich has resurfaced intermittently, and to much fanfare each time. Some highlights of its storied past include:
- Summer 1994: McDonald’s brought back the McRib as a tie-in with the theatrical release of The Flintstones.
- November 2005: McDonald’s put out a press release stating that the McRib would be permanently removed from the menu following a “McRib Farewell Tour.”
- October 2008: Reintroduced across the U.S., Hong Kong and Japan with a promotional website featuring music sponsored by a “McRib DJ Plowman.”
- 2010: McDonald’s began six weeks of nationwide McRib availability at the Legends of the McRib event in New York City by honoring three McRib superfans: Joey Erwin, aka Mr. McRib; Alan Klein, inventor of the McRib Locator website; and Adam Winer. McDonalds credited the McRib with boosting their November 2010 sales by 4.8%.
It seems that part of the sandwich’s appeal is its elusiveness, a quality that McDonald’s plans to maintain.