Just what is it about the McRib? Somehow, without even trying, I am aware of its presence, aware of the hype surrounding each of its comebacks. I hadn’t even realized the McRib’s buzz as a PR ploy until my (biology major) roommate said: “Whoa, the McRib…that’s some good public relations going on.”
There’s no question, the sandwich has a cult following. There’s an online “McRib Locator” where visitors can submit “McRib sightings.” There’s even an unofficial “McRib Watch” Twitter account. People love this dang sandwich. But whyyy?
It doesn’t seem to be superior taste, as McDonald’s actually pulled it from its regular menu because of lagging sales after its introduction in 1982. Looking at the McRib objectively, it’s not all that appealing. It’s become kind of a punchline among some folk, as its culinary reputation is…questionable. With a list of 70 ingredients, including one that’s found in gym mats, the appeal of the McRib just seems…bizarre.
The key is the “For a limited time only” allure. According to Meredith Melnick, in her article “McRib Fanatics and the Amazing Power of Limited Availability,” retailers know that this concept makes us spend irrationally. The limited availability sales pitch isn’t rooted in quality, utility or desirability: things that we want in a sane state of mind. Instead, retailers bank on the human characteristic of hating to miss out on something.
Apparently we’re suckers for an elusive lover and McDonald’s is profiting from it. Oh…Do you find it odd that I’m comparing a processed meat sandwich to a lover? Well, I’ve got news for you…
“Sort of in the same way that some people are attracted to bad boys (or girls) who won’t commit, the elusiveness of the McRib is part of its appeal.” -Brad Tuttle, Moneyland
“You don’t know when it will appear. It’s the girl who you are in love with who has always been a tease to you.” -Ryan Dixon, Once drove 10 hours to buy a McRib
Paging Dr. Freud!