By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Dec 04, 2020 at 6:01 PM Photography: Lori Fredrich

2020 has taken a lot from our daily lives, but at least we received one thing this year: the return of the McRib. 

Yes, for the first time since 2012, McDonald's has unleashed its beloved sauced-soaked sammie nationwide. Ever since its debut back in the early '80s, the sandwich has been a cult fast food favorite – even though, infamously, there's nothing particuarly rib-like about the McRib, serving up a vaguely rib-shaped pork patty slathered in sauce and topped with thinly sliced onions and pickles. You hear that sound? That's what pitmasters across the country sobbing sounds like. Even though it may be a porky poseur, though, that doesn't stop people from lining up and loving these exclusive eats. 

But what is it about the McRib that people love? Is it really that good, or is it just its rare elusive quality? To solve this edible enigma, FoodCrush podcast hosts Matt Mueller and Lori Fredrich snagged themselves the sandwich to taste test – but obviously this was a case too big for merely two people to handle, so they brought in McDonald's aficionado Steve Palec to crack this culinary conundrum.

Would the McRib hold up to McScrutiny? Or would it be a McDisappointment? Time to take a bite!

Ba da ba ba ba, I'm ... not lovin' it. 

This was my first dive into the world of the McRib, and I must say: I don't get it. It's not a bad sandwich, per se – I still made mine disappear so clearly it wasn't appalling – and surprisingly the faux rib meat isn't the problem. The shaped sausage patty is actually pretty tasty, with a texture more like the sausage used on McDonald's breakfast sandwiches than on their burgers.

The problem comes with the sauce, the supposed star of the sammich. This is clearly a glorified sauce delivery device, but I didn't get nearly enough flavor from it – neither smoky nor tangy enough to give the sandwich the punch it needs. In fact, Lori and Steve wondered if maybe the sauce has changed over the years, resulting in not an inedible sandwich but merely an unremarkable one. This seems like a case where the true special sauce that makes the McRib sing is nostalgia – and if you don't have that, well, you're on the outside looking in on this dish.

The McRib clearly still has its fans, though, and for those fans, you can keep finding the special sandwich at McDonald's across the country for a limited time. And stay tuned for more FoodCrush Live taste tests!  We've got some very special holiday editions coming up.

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.