McDonald's | Various Locations | |
THE VERY FIRST JOB I had where I received a company paycheck was at McDonald's. Specifically, the McDonald's that had just opened open so directly across the street from my apartment that I suffered no shame, at 14/15 years old, of of wearing my uniform back and forth from work.
I was quite proud, actually, proud to open this post of a Mickey D's in a neighborhood where the next nearest one was at least a 20-minute walk east along 125th Street. Having a McDonald's at the top of Morningside Heights made our little neighborhood even cooler (if that was at all possible, wink wink!).
Add to that the fact that that very summer was the summer when the McRib sandwich was initially introduced, the new coolest people on the block were the ones wearing brown and yellow polyester and paper hats.
I am lucky to be old enough to have witnessed the advent of the Filet 'o' Fish, the Shamrock Shake, Chicken Nuggets ("What part are the nuggets?!), the Egg McMuffin (and breakfast in general, including the McGriddle), the brief experiment that was the McDLT, and the Quarter Pounder, which eventually suffered a quick retirement due to the greater popularity of its younger brother, the Quarter Pounder with Cheese. (I started out working the "Quarter grill" back then—before they had computer systems—and always found it odd that when someone ordered a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, the cashier would yell back to us in the kitchen, "Quarter Cheese", but when someone ordered a regular Quarter Pounder, they would yell back, "Quarter Cheese, no cheese!)
There could be testament to the fact that, at least up here in the northeast, the Arches haven't tried or introduced that many new menu items, at least sandwich-wise, since the McRib (apathy towards the 1/3-Pound Angus burgers continues), especially given the special treatment it receives by being offered as a gift to its loving and loyal customers for limited times only once a year or so. It's like when the Rockettes are back in town; all of a sudden, life gets a little better.
And what about this particular sandwich deserves all this attention and fanfare? It's just good, is all, the best best-for-you-fast food out there. Friends of mine have scoffed at and scolded me for expressing my unabashed love for the sauce, molded meat patty sandwich, some finding it more egregious since I am supposedly a respected "foodie" (still hate that term). Hey, I love a good Oscar-worthy film myself, but if an old school Steven Seigal movie pops up as I'm flipping channels on the tube, I'm going to stop everything I'm doing to watch it to the end. Sure, the only difference between McDonald's and William Morris is that McD's can legally market their addictive wares to kids of any age, but the pleasure of the McRib is having it take me back to a time when I didn't know of or care about truffles, or omega-8s, or "locally-sourced"; the boneless pork sammy is delicious enough to pay no mind to this mess you're bound to make. It is the White Castle slider experience on steroids, without having to be drunk or stoned to truly enjoy.
Which is why I believe so much is made of the McRibs yearly return; it may be one of the last—and definitely the best—fast food item many of us insist on enjoying with absolute abandon. It may be the one time you don't have to walk the less conspicuous way home with the paper bag with the golden arches, confident if anyone asks they'll be more likely to be jealous when you tell them what you're toting home for din-dins.
I am and may very well be forever a proud McRib-lover. And I will likewise always be just as excited every year when the return. Almost as much as I am heartbroken yet relieved when they stop serving them for another 11 months.
Bun Apple Tea!
McDonald's | Various Locations | |