- McDonald's McRib returns to menus across the US on December 2.
- This is the first time the McRib will roll out nationally since 2012, following years of fans begging McDonald's to bring the sandwich back across America.
- "In a year as challenging as this year has been, to throw a little McRib out there to those that really want to have it, it feels like something that would be a pretty nice gesture," said Alan Klein, creator of the McRib locator.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
The battle for the McRib has been a long one, hardily fought by fans of the polarizing sandwich. Now, they're seeing results.
McDonald's is finally bringing the McRib back to menus across the US in 2020, after years of demands from desperate super-fans of the sandwich.
The McRib will return to menus nationally on December 2, according to leaked documents obtained by McRib advocate McRibGate and confirmed to Business Insider by a McDonald's employee.
"I can't believe it's happening," Matt, who runs McRibGate and asked to only use his first name, told Business Insider via Twitter DM.
McDonald's confirmed the national return of the McRib to Business Insider on Friday.
"The McRib has been a beloved menu item at McDonald's since its inception nearly 40 years ago," McDonald's vice president of menu innovation, Linda VanGosen, said in a statement. "There's nothing quite like the taste of the McRib. To our customers, it's become more than a delicious, saucy moment… it's a season, and it's taking the internet by storm. That's why this year, we're proud to serve the McRib nationwide for everyone to enjoy."
The McRib's national return to menus represents the first time since 2012 that McDonald's will roll out the sandwich across the US. In prior years, the chain has only sold the McRib regionally, leaving some fans of the sandwich desperately searching for the limited-time menu item.
McRib fans have been chasing the sandwich for almost 40 years
In 1982, McDonald's debuted the McRib — a pork patty molded into the shape of a rack of ribs, topped with pickles and onions. McDonald's first executive chef and the inventor of the McNugget, Rene Arend, created the menu item after feasting on pulled pork sandwiches on a trip to Charleston, South Carolina, Arend told Maxim in 2009.
However, the McRib lacked the McNuggets' star power. McDonald's soon decided that the sandwich worked best as a limited-time item. For years, the sandwich would erratically appear and disappear from McDonald's menus, driven by franchisees' desires to sell the sandwich and the national supply (and price) of pork trimmings.
McDonald's threw three farewell tours for the McRib in 2005, 2006 and 2007, followed by a few years of the sandwich popping up regionally as a limited-time offering. The sandwich returned to the national menu from 2010 to 2012, before disappearing again in 2013. Since then, the sandwich has only been available as a regional, limited-time menu item.
The unpredictable nature of the sandwich forced the cult of the McRib to take matters into their own hands.
Alan Klein created the McRib locator back in 2008, in an effort to help customers find the elusive sandwich. Klein told Business Insider that he and other McRib fans have been forced to drive for hours to get their hands on the sandwich. He recalled the story of a group of friends that drove from Colorado to New Mexico to buy $300 worth of McRibs, which they then handed out to people back in Colorado Springs.
"I personally like seeing that — where people are out, trying to help," Klein said. "It's sort of the same thing I do."
The battle to bring back the McRib
While the McRib has long had a cult following, social media helped fans of the sandwich find each other and begin organizing.
McRibGate's Matt bought the domain McRibGate.com five years ago. He started campaigning for the McRib in earnest on social media a few years later, in 2018.
Matt told Business Insider that, at the time, he hadn't eaten a McRib since 2010 or 2011, when he was in college. Matt found himself checking the McRib locator on random days of the year, hoping that a nearby McDonald's would start selling the sandwich. McDonald's decision to briefly bring back the McRib on a regional basis only made him more frustrated.
"They kept hyping it up more and more and just teasing the McRib lovers with something they'd never get," Matt said.
Klein said that a community of McRib fans has formed online. There are the "ultra fans," who get upset at the lack of McRibs at local McDonald's. A contingent of DIY-minded McRib lovers make their own versions of the sandwich. Organizers, like Matt, have tried to petition McDonald's to bring back the McRib permanently or at least nationally.
"In a year as challenging as this year has been, to throw a little McRib out there to those that really want to have it, it feels like something that would be a pretty nice gesture," Klein said.
McRibGate's Matt acknowledges there are bigger issues than the McRib in 2020. In messages on Thursday, he voiced support for the Black Lives Matter movement and encouraged people to vote in the election next week.
Still, in a tumultuous year, the return of the McRib feels like a win for Matt and other McRib devotees.
"I hope McRibGate is ended for good and McDonalds doesn't dare think of offering it at select locations again and restarting the fight," Matt said.
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