Thursday, October 27, 2011

The MicRib sandwich at McDonald's: A case of heavy media spin and poor American eating habits

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The first thing you should know about the new McDonald's McRib sandwich is that it is not made out of ribs at all. It is pork, meat like a lot of the scraps that are gathered together to create unhealthy "foods" that help the corporations make huge profits. And there is nothing wrong with pork -- lots of religious people who once put pork on their Sin Lists have since changed because pork today comes from pigs that are better cared for and raised in better environments. In fact, the whole ban on pork by religious groups, Christians, Muslims and Jews, was all about public perception than reality.

Which is one reason why corporations like McDonalds, which make huge profits from huge sales numbers, use a lot of pork. Most people just don't care any more.

But while the McRib sandwich is pork, it is not a rib at all. It is made from scraps from the shoulder of a pig. So, in truth, McDonalds should call it the McShoulder Sandwich, but for some reason that doesn't sound as appealing as a rib. There are many rib joints all over -- in the Southwest suburbs they include Portillos, Patio and the Pit Rib House.

People love ribs. No one has a restaurant that specializes in shoulders.

But even though it is called a McRib made from pig shoulder scrapes, it's not even a rib in form. There is no rib bone, which is the true essence of a rib. A rib bone. According to Genesis in the Bible, God took a rib bone from Adam and created Eve with it. Well, that's if you are religious of course, but it never hurt to study the Bible or go to Bible school as a child. Many people believe that women have more ribs then men. I always believed it. They taught that in Sunday School.

It's an urban legend, of course. Humans have 24 ribs, unless there is some other cause for an oddity in the number. And it's an urban legend that the McDonald's Rib sandwich, the McRib, has any ribs in it at all.

The thing that bothers me about the McRib sandwich is that it is made to "look" like a rib section. There are little stripes of what looks like bones. But the sandwich reportedly is just smashed pork scraps from the pig's shoulder, pressed together so tightly they look like a flat piece of grisly meat. Wow. So appetizing already.

I am not sure I want to know how that get that "rib" appearance. But I don how McDonalds made the McRib so popular.

It's a lot like the children's Disney movies and the invention of the VHS tape and later the CD, then DVD and now Blue Ray. In the video industry, which I know something about having been part owner of several Orland Videos later renamed VideoShark Video in the late 1980s and 1990s, Disney would limit the release of selected movies. You always hear about how Disney kept certain movies in the "Vault" away from public access and then suddenly they would release it to the public with the caution, "Better buy it now. It's only out of the vault for a limited time and then it's going back in." You won't be able to buy Snow White, or Bambi once that window evaporates. And the videos sell like hot cakes. Which is a good seque. People eat pork with hot cakes all the time. I think it started when the pioneers were pillaging their way across Native American lands beginning in the 15th Century through the 19th Century. Pigs and cows were corralled together in those wagon trains across the American Indian plains but the pigs did not give milk and they were surly. Cows provided milk and were very accommodating to the end.

Well, it's that time again, America. McDonalds has opened the vault. The "McRib" sandwich is now available in their franchises all across the world today, not just in America.

It debuted in 1981 as a means to off-set the huge demand for Chicken McNuggets. I don't even want to get into what part of a chicken makes a McNugget, but it's not very healthy, though very popular. The McNugget was selling fast so the guy who invented the McNugget for McDonalds came up with the rectangular meat patty and the rectangular bun to help fill the void. It didn't take off right away. And they pulled it from the market, maybe figuring the Chicken McNugget scarcity problem had been solved and now consumers were swimming in chicken scraps, too, and didn't need to confuse them with pig shoulder scraps.

So it has left the market and been brought back out of the McDonald's vault, to much success.

Americans will eat almost anything. Just look at our obese children and our obese parents. We are among the least healthiest people on the planet and yet we are the wealthiest and very well fed. Over fed, some might argue. We throw away so much food, wasting so much in food resources. But isn't that what being American wealthy is all about?

I can just them in the plains as the rickety wheels wobbled over the bumpy plains and rocks, and the kids dragged along as the father's pushed ahead with their rifles drawn shooting and killing animals and Indians as if there were no difference.


"What Ottis?"

"I'm hungry."

"Don't worry son. We're on our way to Calee-forn-ya and we'll be able to eat everything we want, including the McDonald's McRib sandwich."


"What Ottis?"

"Is it really a rib?"

"That's the beauty of America, son. Nothing has to be real in the new World. Just what we want it to be."

-- Ray Hanania

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