You may have read that McDonald's will once again be temporarily reintroducing its McRib sandwich across the country. The McRib has come and gone over the last 30 years, which always seemed unusual to me given the fact that a pillar of McDonald's success has always been its consistency.
What is the McRib, really? And why does it come and go? This article on CNN answers these questions as follows:
What is it? "Restructured meat products are commonly manufactured by using lower-valued meat trimmings reduced in size by comminution (flaking, chunking, grinding, chopping or slicing). The comminuted meat mixture is mixed with salt and water to extract salt-soluble proteins. These extracted proteins are critical to produce a 'glue' which binds muscle pieces together. These muscle pieces may then be reformed to produce a 'meat log' of specific form or shape... 'That material,' as Mandigo calls it, is pork trimmings - but not from the rib. According to McDonald's Executive Chef Dan Coudreaut, it's primarily shoulder and loin meat, chopped and formed into a boneless patty in the shape of a four-ridged rib slab, and then quickly frozen until it meets its final fate on a restaurant grill. Then it's slathered in sauce, topped with pickles and raw onion and served in a long, soft white bun."
Why does it come and go, and why is it only available for short periods of time? "If you suddenly start to buy a large amount of that material," said Mandigo, "the price starts to rise."