The McRib sandwich is back at McDonalds:
Most of the time, it’s up to local franchises to determine when and if they want to sell the McRib — except in Germany, the only place where it’s available perennially. But McDonald’s said the response was so great last November when it made the McRib available nationally for about three weeks that it decided to bring it back this year. The company, which previously hadn’t sold the McRib nationally since 1994, declined to give specific sales numbers.
The sandwich, which is dressed with onions, pickle slices and barbecue sauce, was introduced nationally in 1982. With 500 calories and 26 grams of fat, it’s slightly trimmer than the Big Mac, which has 540 calories and 29 grams of fat. And just like the Big Mac, the McRib has become a popular McDonald’s offering.
That’s fine and dandy until you find out what actually makes up the McRib. Following a link via Chicago Magazine, we learn about restructured meat products:
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. The log is then cut into steaks or chops which, when cooked, are similar in appearance and texture to their intact muscle counterparts.
This bit about the origins of the McRib are very interesting:
The McRib itself was the brainchild of Rene Arend, a native of Luxembourg who first appeared in the Chicago area not as McDonald’s first executive chef, but as a 31-year-old night head second cook at the Drake and a protege of “great chefs in Strasbourg, France.” Arend won a 1959 gourmet contest at the Drake with his supreme de poularde Amphitryon—chicken in sweet butter with cognac Martell, Madere sauce, cream, and goose liver, accompanied by veal dumplings and hearts of palm covered in orange hollandaise sauce—”fixed up for tastes of American people,” Arend told the Tribune. Arend moved to the Whitehall Club before being lured away by the hours, benefits, and challenge of McDonald’s in the late 1970s by Ray Kroc, a Whitehall regular:
Given that Chef Rene is a native of Luxembourg, a graduate (first in his class) of the College Technique Hotelier de Strasbourg, and a man who has prepared dinners for such luminaries as Queen Elizabeth II of England, the king of Belgium, and Sophia Loren and Cary Grant, we asked him why the McFood at McYou-Know-Where’s doesn’t exactly taste like European gourmet cooking.
‘‘We have to cater to the American public,” he replied. ”I am 31 years here, nearly as long as McDonald’s. I have also become Americanized. McDonald’s is perfect American food, you see. But never are any restrictions put on me when I do a product.”
So there you go. The McRib came about as a way to Americanize food. I like its history, but I will pass on the sandwich, thank you very much.