We tasted the McRib for the very first time

In honor of the sandwich’s 40th birthday, four adults see what all the fuss is about.

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McRib from McDonald's
To be fair, it does look delicious.
Photo: Marnie Shure

People seem to really love the McDonald’s McRib. The Takeout’s own Allison Robicelli compares tasting the elusive sandwich to experiencing true love. When it’s McRib season, people lose their damn minds; perhaps it’s so sought after because just as soon as it returns to the menu McDonald’s yanks it away. For the past 40 years, the chain has learned to capitalize on our universal feeling of desperately wanting something we can’t have.

I never subscribed to this particular fast food craze. Growing up I remember my dad plotting his trips to the drive-thru during McRib season, and perhaps as a child I once took a bite, but when trying to recall the experience and the taste, I came up empty—and it turns out several on Team Takeout never partook at all. As we continued to cover news of McRib NFTs and cocktails, it became increasingly clear what we had to do. We had to finally try the McRib for real.

Myself, editor in chief Marnie Shure, and staff writers Angela Pagán and Lillian Stone were the McRib novices, and we decided to take a field trip to McDonald’s to see what all the fuss was about.

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McDonald’s sure knows how to brand a sandwich.
McDonald’s sure knows how to brand a sandwich.
Photo: Marnie Shure

The McRibbing Hour

The four of us decided to split two McRibs, affording each of us a suitable tasting portion. After battling with the overly complicated digital kiosk to place our very simple order, then meticulously cleaving the sandwiches to ensure equal pickle and onion distribution on each half, it was finally what Stone deemed the McRibbing Hour.

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I was surprised by the size, remembering the sandwiches being smaller in my youth. We were all struck by the bread at first glance, which looked more artisanal and substantial than a typical McDonald’s bun. As Shure prepared to take a bite, she noted that the bottom bun in particular was “velvety soft.”

I always speculated that the sauce was what set the McRib apart, and saucy indeed this sandwich was. But Pagán was quick to point out this was more of a quantity over quality situation: you’ll end up with sauce all over your hands and face, but the taste was weak and seemingly not as tangy or memorable as McDonald’s dunkable BBQ sauce packets.

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There’s also not much flavor to the meat itself, which Stone called just a “whisper” of pork. The oblong patty was wildly under-seasoned and could in essence be anything, not standing out much from a typical McDonald’s burger patty. The crunch and acid from the pickles and onions were a welcome addition, but I could have gone for double or even triple the amount, which would have formed a stronger contrast to all that sauce.

These particular critiques may sound harsh (and we are very ready for the McRib hive to sound off in the comments), but none of us hated this sandwich. It was a perfectly fine assemblage of ingredients, one that if enjoyed in its entirety would leave us feeling full and ready to go on with our day. Our consensus was that the bread in particular was an impressive piece of fast food. But when this limited-time offering is stacked up against everything else on the McDonald’s menu, the four of us were quick to name several items we’d order before settling on the McRib again.

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We’re not here to rain on anyone’s parade—go nuts and keep McRibbing if that’s your thing! With us out of the mix there are just that many more sandwiches for you to enjoy before this thing disappears yet again. And as for us, maybe we’ll just have to taste it again next season. Sometimes true love takes time.