The annual return of the McRib is upon us: McDonald’s has announced the sandwich will be back at participating restaurants starting October 31, once the dust has settled on the Boo Buckets promotion. Some friends of mine have even reported finding early McRibs at certain locations already, much to their delight. Normally this would all be some pretty ho-hum news, since the McRib’s return is something I report on annually, but the 2022 announcement dropped with a twist: This year, the McRib will be mounting its “farewell tour.”
Or so McDonald’s says:
We reached out to McDonald’s, and the company seemingly confirmed that this is indeed the McRib’s last hurrah.
“After three straight years headlining our nationwide menu, this fall will be the McRib’s Farewell Tour - complete with limited-edition throwback McRib merch available for purchase, so diehard fans can forever rock their favorite sandwich even after it’s gone from the menu,” read a statement from the company sent to The Takeout via email.
This response felt incomplete, to say the least. Though McDonald’s repeatedly speaks of the McRib’s “farewell,” and the fact that it will be “gone,” there’s no mention in the email, nor their press materials, of the McRib actually being discontinued. Asked for clarification, however, the company remained coy.
“We can’t say for certain what the future holds,” read a follow-up statement from McDonald’s. “But for now, fans should enjoy the McRib while they can, because it won’t be returning nationwide anytime soon.”
The key is in the word “nationwide.” That doesn’t explicitly state that the McRib is being nuked from the menu forever—it just implies that not everyone will get it the next time it’s around.
McDonald’s has pulled this exact stunt before, right down to the “McRib Farewell Tour” term. It happened in 2005, reported QSR Magazine that year, and in 2006 McDonald’s had something of a sequel promotion called the McRib Farewell Tour II—and yet the sandwich reappeared on menus in 2007. It’s been on and off the menu at a fairly regular cadence since then, but the key is that the return of the McRib hasn’t been a nationwide re-release since 2012; it’s only been at select locations. In 2020, the McRib came back nationally again.
It’s not that the McRib is going away, per se. I’m sure many of us will be seeing it come back again next year, like always. But it’ll fall back into its old pattern of only being released in certain markets as opposed to all US locations. Since I live in a larger market, in McDonald’s home city of Chicago, that probably accounts for why I don’t remember any major disruptions in the McRib’s release schedule. We’ve had it here regularly for decades, even if the rest of the country hasn’t.
From where I sit, the McRib’s 2022 Farewell Tour is just a marketing stunt, and for many of us, there’s no reason to worry—though I realize that for certain areas of the country, it might really feel like you have to grab a McRib while you still can. McDonald’s isn’t specifying which markets will see the McRib’s return next year and which won’t; maybe that decision depends on what franchise locations decide to do. In any case, here’s some valuable intel for all of us: It’s not hard to make a great McRib at home.