Happy McRibmas! Five fun-in-a-bun facts about the McDonald's McRib

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Today is McRibmas -- one of the most important holidays on the calendar. That's because the infamous, sauce-slathered, probably-mostly-pork sammie is now back on the McDonald's menu -- for a limited time, of course. The McRib enjoys a crazy cult following not at all unlike the devotion shown to some actual cults, and to those devotees I say, "F*ckin' A -- there are worse things you could worship!" In honor of this year's McRibmas, I've compiled the top five fun-in-a-bun facts about the McDonald's McRib. See also: - An ode to the McRib sandwich, which will disappears soon - Merry McRib-mas! A holiday poem in celebration 5. The McRib was created by an actual chef

In 1976 McDonald's founder Ray Kroc managed to convince European chef Rene Arend to leave his gig as executive chef of Chicago's exclusive Whitehall Club to run the McDonald's test kitchen; the reasons for Arend's sauté pan-to-fry basket career change is still the subject of speculation. In 1984 he told a reporter for The Morning Call that "it wasn't an easy decision" and he "thought about it for eight years before making the move." He'd cooked for major hotels in Europe and America as well as for the club, he said, and he wanted to try something new -- and to reach more diners with his work.

I bet an entire year's worth of McDonald's McRib profits that, despite chef Arend's protestations, his motivation for becoming chef Daddy McRib was a McLoad of McMoney.

4. The McRib could've been the McClucker -- but the chicken supply ran dry

Sure, McChef Arend says he was inspired to build the mighty McRib while eating a bunch of true Southern pulled-pork sammies while in Charleston, South Carolina (this was probably the last time anything inspired by anything in South Carolina turned out well), but the massive popularity of his one-off new product, Chicken McNuggets, caused a chicken shortage; there was more demand for cluck than suppliers could keep up with. The mostly-no-really pork sandwich was introduced to give the franchise stores a new product in lieu of the nuggets.

So which is the McChef's greater creation? The McNuggets or the McRib? Lucky for customers, they have at least a limited time every year when they don't have to choose.

3. The McRoo-mor bouncing around

Years ago a rumor started that quickly became an urban myth (now an urban legend) that McDonald's was using Australian kangaroo meat in the McRib sandwiches. McDonald's did nothing to quash the gossip, but when the company finally did start listing the ingredients of its menu items, it was clear that in all the seventy-odd, occasionally unpronounceable ingredients in the McRib patty, there was no kangaroo meat.

Or did secret McDoo scientists in underground McLabs just make up long, intimidating ingredient names to cover up the inclusion of tender, juicy, fake-grill-mark-scored flanks and asses of kangaroos? We may never know the truth.

2. McRib is made from the very best parts of the pig McChef Arend was the creator of the McRib -- it's his idea and distinctive patty-shape design -- but the recipe for the mostly-meat mixture that makes up the rib patty actually came from a professor at the University of Nebraska, Richard Mandigo, who created the "restructured meat product." According to Mandigo, the mixture consists of tripe, heart and scalded stomach bits mixed with salt and water to extract the proteins, and these proteins act as a binder to turn all these tasty trimmings into the faux-slab patties we all know and love.

If you weren't racing out the door to get a McRib before, I'll bet you are now!

1. You can find McRib sandwiches all year round with the McRib Locator

Ain't technology grand? There's a website with a location map where McRibbers can post confirmed McRib sightings all over the country, in season or not, because individual McDonald's restaurant operators are able to order the ingredients anytime they feel like it -- thus fueling the McCrazies and the McConspiracy nuts who believe the company is treating its customer base like wallet-wielding lab rats to be tortured with yes/no/yes/no...maybe.

If online stalking of the McRib is wrong, then I don't wanna be right.

I wish you all a merry McRibmas, and a happy new year (and a prescription for IBS meds).

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