The McRib is coming back! The popular barbecue pork sandwich will be available Nov. 1 in McDonald's restaurants across the country. But if it's so beloved, why does McDonald’s tease consumers and hold back from offering the McRib year-round? It’s all about marketing.
Much of the McRib’s allure is that it’s not something you can get anytime you want. Like the excitement over pumpkin-spice season, devoted fans of the McRib anxiously await the limited time that the saucy sandwich will be available each year. There is even an online McRib tracker for those who are really into it.
In case you’ve been living under a rock and have no idea what a McRib is, it’s a seasoned boneless pork patty shaped to look like ribs that is slathered in BBQ sauce and topped with onions and dill pickles.
Seasonal items like the McRib and pumpkin spices lattes are an important marketing tool for the food industry, Northwestern marketing professor Alexander Chernev told CNN in 2019.
“When you have these exclusive products, which exist for a short period of time, it gives people a reason to come to the store,” Chernev told CNN.
Just imagine if McRibs were available year-round; how fun would that be? Consumers may lose interest in it.
The McRib once was a year-round item, but it wasn't very popular.
The sandwich was created in 1981 and added to McDonald’s permanent menu. Apparently it wasn’t so beloved and, after poor sales, it was removed from the menu four years later. It was added again in 1989 and stayed on the menu until 2005 in many countries.
When the restaurant removed the sandwich from its menu in 2005, it held a “McRib Farewell” tour. After three other farewell tours in 2006, 2007, and 2008, the great minds at McDonald’s realized the McRib was more popular when only offered for a limited time. About 30 million sandwiches were sold during the 2007 "farewell" tour.
McRib used to be a regional menu item.
For many years, McDonalds only offered the McRib in select cities around the U.S. so McRib lovers would have to travel to find one. Then, in 2020, the restaurant made the sandwich available nationwide for the first time since 2012.
“McRib Season” is upon us.
Depriving consumers of the BBQ treat helped fuel the hype around its annual limited release. McRib aficionado’s set their calendars to remind them when “McRib Season” starts.
“Whether you’re a McRib loyalist or first-timer, there is no denying that the McRib is one of the most iconic sandwiches of the last four decades, and we have thousands of emails and tweets from fans to prove it,” said Mike Bullington, senior archives manager at McDonald’s.
Social media was a buzz upon news of this year’s McRib release.
“Why is McRib a limited time menu? @McDonalds. I demand McRib as a full-time menu item. It deserves that. It’s time. Do the right thing, Ronald! Would the Big Mac be jealous? I think so! #McRibForLife,” tweeted Matt Abbatacola.
“McDonald's is bringing back the McRib for the sandwich’s 40th anniversary. I still have one under my driver seat from their first anniversary,” tweeted comedian Larry the Cable Guy.
“I’m convinced if you gave away a free McRib with the covid vaccine we could get the rest of America vaccinated,” tweeted Sydney Leathers.
The McRib is available year-round in two countries.
If you want a McRib any other time of the year, you’ll have to go to Germany or Luxembourg, where it is on the permanent menu.