3hree Things: Riley vs. The McRib

Watch out for 3hree Things every Tuesday, where Riley Breckenridge, drummer of Orange County's favorite local alt-rock band Thrice, gives his take on life in Southern California as an OC native.

The McRib is back and coincidentally, so is explosive diarrhea.

I used to have a gullet of steel. In high school I dabbled in most of the fast food Irvine had to offer; a lunch the Carl's Jr. on Culver, a late night post-party mess of “meat” and cheese at the Del Taco a near University High School, or a Friday night pre-football game misery meal with the fellas at the Mc Donald's on Jeffery and Alton. In college, something in my pipes changed and my body started to rejecting 90 percent of the fast food meals I ingested. I'll spare you the gruesome details, but in short, if I ate poorly, I paid for it. It was a simple lesson, and one I'm thankful to have learned (although I'd love to have some of those hours back that I spent with a crippling stomach ache or sweating it out spackling toilets.)

Since my guts took a turn for the better (or worse, depending on how you look at it), I've made it a point to avoid fast food at all costs* save a few emergency meals on tour. And by “few,” I mean “maybe five or six in the past eight years or so.”

As a result, I missed most of the hullabaloo surrounding McDonald's McRib, it's demise, and yearly return(s). The limited exposure I've had to the sandwich with a cult following has come as a result of fast food advertising's stranglehold on televised sports and my multifaceted sports nerdery. Over the past month or so, It's been made painfully clear that the McRib is back, so with interest piqued and in the name of “journalism,, I decided to set aside a Saturday afternoon, purchase and eat a McRib, and see what all the fuss was about.


1) The Gory Details

A Saturday-morning-workout-negating 500 calories and 26 grams of fat housed in a boneless patty made with whipped pork parts, slathered with high fructose corn syrup rich barbecue sauce, topped with onions and pickles, and clumsily housed in a six-inch roll. The Brett Favre of fast food sandwiches, the McRib debuted in 1981, retired in 1985, unretired in 1994, retired again in 2005, re-unretired for a short spell in 2007, did the same in 2008, and most recently reared it's ugly head on November 2nd. McDonald's has described the sandwich as hearty, fulfilling, tangy, and sticky. While I'll give them “sticky,” I think they left out “horrifying”.

OC Weekly's Michelle Woo covered the return of the McRib in her piece on November 1st, and quoted an EW.com commenter as saying

“The McRib is like that really hot chick you hook up with every few years when she swings by your town. You never really know when she's coming back, she never stays long, and the reason she leaves again is never that clear, but man, good times when she's around.”

If I may take the liberty of rewriting that, I'd put it as such:

“The McRib is like that bargain barrel hooker you realize that you need to pay for because you haven't been laid in a few years, you're tired of masturbating yourself into a fine powder, and you hate yourself. You know damn well that you shouldn't do it, and you know the parting gift she'll leave you with is probably gonna burn one of more of your holes, but you do it anyways because she's cheap, she's right next to a gas station, and you didn't even have to get out of your car.”


A sad pile of self-hatred, misery, and synthetic foodstuffs.

2) The Immaculate Consumption

I ate it quickly, not because I liked it, but because I wanted to get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible.

If I were to place the pork patty on a flavor scale, it would land somewhere between “the worst breakfast sausage ever” and “kitchen sponge.” Probably closer to “kitchen sponge”. Normally, I'd say you could coat just about anything in BBQ sauce and it would be edible, but this is no regular BBQ sauce, this is the work of McDonald's mad flavor scientists, and it tastes more of artificial smoke and rotten orange juice than anything else. Bonus: it came with hair. Namely, two dirty blonde hairs of the arm and/or pubic variety. OOH, FIBER!

Top that off with onions that have been McDonaldized into flavorless translucent chunks of yuck, and pickles that taste like you're testing a 9-volt battery with your tongue, and you've got yourself a sandwich that is primed to liquify your insides. An aside (regarding said pickles): Back in the high school pre football game meals days at Dirty Ronnie's I thought it would be funny to eat my meal with a pickle stuck to my forehead (because I was an idiot.)

I bought a quarter pounder, removed the pickle, stuck it to my forehead and kept it there for a good ten to fifteen minutes. It burned like hell, but for the sake of a (horrible) joke, I kept it there throughout the meal. No shit, I had a pickle chip-sized rash on my fivehead for three days afterwards. I'm convinced that those pickles are pickled in battery acid.  Your condiments and paint thinner shan't be kindred spirits. Avoid at all costs.

3) The Unfortunate Aftermath
I lasted a full hour before I had to scamper to the bathroom. Most of that hour was spent trying to ignore the oily film that had coated my mouth and throat (all McDonald's meals leave you with “the film”), and trying to wash the scent of the barbecue sauce off of my hands and face.

That sauce, which I'm assuming is the same gut-rotting formula they use as a dipping sauce for their other whipped N formed meat oddity, the McNugget, just stuck around like a lingering acidic reminder that what just happened in my mouth shouldn't have. (Much like puking after a night of shitty BBQ and too many adult beverages that may or may not have happened to the person writing this column.)

It's safe to say that we can add the The McRib to the list of gifts that keep on giving. The greater part of my Sunday was spent either on the toilet or thinking about being on the toilet, as my stomach gurgled and growled its way through gastrointestinal gymnastics. (I think I actually heard it say, “You asshole. How could you do this to me?”) And the farting, oh the farting. I'm still peppering myself with shit whispers as I type this on Monday morning. Never again.The pork sponge slathered in bowel assaulting shame glaze is available until December 5th.

*In-N-Out and its glorious burgers are exempt from fast food categorization in my book.

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