There’s no doubt the Big Mac is the most iconic menu item on the Golden Arches menu board, but if there’s a close second, especially among the legions of fans who can’t wait for it to appear each year, it’s the saucy McRib.
Whats in a McRib?
For many years, the running joke was that people didn’t know what was in it. They just thought it was delicious. That “it’s a delicious mystery” narrative became so popular – it even got The Simpsons treatment – McDonald’s finally came out and explained exactly what’s in the McRib. It’s spiced pork, plus some water, salt, dextrose, all slathered with a special McRib sauce made of corn syrup, tomato paste, distilled vinegar, molasses and smoke flavor.
And millions of people love it.
The McRib debuted way back in 1982 and had a strong three-year run before McDonald’s pulled it from the regular menu in 1985. From then on, time to time, the McRib would reappear, delighting fans and creating a sense of anticipation like only McDonald’s could do it.
Other fast-food chains tried to mimic the “it’s coming” campaigns that built McRib lore, to limited success. None could quite find the magic of that sauce-slathered slab of salty pork.
McRib Celebrates 35th Anniversary
Next year will be the McRib’s 35th anniversary, and McDonald’s is already announcing plans to bring the sandwich back for a limited engagement. This time, though, the marketing is creating anticipation with a decidedly digital age feel. Twitter accounts are promoting the return, and McDonald’s is encouraging people to order the sandwich through the company app. And, if you have Uber Eats in your area, you can get the McRib delivered right to your door.
McDonald’s handling of the public relations push for this come and go sandwich offers a peek into what has made the company so successful. They have a connective feel for customers. It’s not just being able to get the same “decent” food in just about any town in the country. It’s about growing up with the iconic brands and seeing the Golden Arches connected with so many American Institutions, from The Olympics to professional sports to national charities.
Sure, Mickey D’s has had its fair share of misses, but the hits remain enmeshed in the American psyche. From the Big Mac to the Quarter Pounder to Chicken McNuggets and the famous French fries, multiple menu items have played key roles across the pop culture spectrum in movies, TV shows, and popular music. Even when they don’t quite get the name right… When Homer Simpson drooled over the “ribwich” every viewer knew exactly what that sandwich really was … and many of them wished they could have one too.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.