Is it possible that the McDonald’s McRib, considered toxic to many, could inspire someone to write a sad song about the seasonal sandwich after it disappeared from the menu? One young woman did just that, equating McRibs with family and tradition. But is this McReal or is it just another publicity stunt?
Meet Xanthe Pajarillo, a 27-year-old self-described “McRib activist,” who began quietly protesting upon finding out that the Golden Arches near her Santa Clarita home opted out of carrying the faux food pork sandwich.
“The removal of the McRib from the menu has affected my family, because every Thanksgiving, my family would, like, order a 50-piece chicken McNugget and like, 10 McRibs,” she said. “It was like, a tradition in our family, and now it’s like — well, like my family’s holiday spirit is kind of messed up and broken.”
“To me,” the Air Force veteran and California Institute of the Arts student added, “Thanksgiving for my family without this McRib is like a Christmas without snow. It just doesn’t make sense.”
To voice her disappointment last year, the millennial of Filipino descent, actually visited the Santa Clarita city council. She wanted to know how to reach the 10 McDonald’s locations in her immediate area that had not added it back to their menu. Actually, according to her research, 45 percent of the fast food restaurant opted out of McDonalds McRib. And with good reason, the wannabe sandwich is not only disgusting but toxic.
— frances farmer (@biosphere77) December 8, 2016
A Scary Look Inside McDonald’s McRib
Mention McDonald’s McRib and I personally want to McBarf.
The McRib is described as a pork patty, bun, barbecue sauce, pickle slices, and slivered onions.
“If you haven’t indulged in one yet, here’s what you’re missing: azodicarbonamide, ammonium sulfate and polysorbate 80 — those are just three of the 70 ingredients (34 in the bun alone) that go into the BBQ pork sandwich,” wrote Time Magazine in 2011 after looking into the actual creation.
These components in small enough quantities are thought to be innocuous. But it’s still a little disconcerting to know that, for example, azodicarbonamide, a flour-bleaching agent that is most commonly used in the manufacture of foamed plastics like in gym mats and the soles of shoes, is found in the McRib bun. The compound is banned in Europe and Australia as a food additive. (England’s Health and Safety Executive classified it as a “respiratory sensitizer” that potentially contributes to asthma through occupational exposure.) The U.S. limits azodicarbonamide to 45 parts per million in commercial flour products, based on analysis of lab testing.
If that’s not nasty enough for you, the gelatinous, manufactured, meat-like patty in the McRib is made using “restructured meat technology,” a term which has thankfully been defined for the masses:
Restructured meat products are commonly manufactured by using lower-valued meat trimmings reduced in size by comminution (flaking, chunking, grinding, chopping or slicing). The comminuted meat mixture is mixed with salt and water to extract salt-soluble proteins. These extracted proteins are critical to produce a ‘glue’ which binds muscle pieces together. These muscle pieces may then be reformed to produce a ‘meat log’ of specific form or shape. The log is then cut into steaks or chops which, when cooked, are similar in appearance and texture to their intact muscle counterparts.
Xanthe I implore you to rethink the greater good of your family. Despite your cult-like obsession, you’re really eating restructured pig innards coated in salt, specifically tripe, heart, and scalded stomachs, as writes The Week. And the thing doesn’t even contain any ribs.
— frances farmer (@biosphere77) December 8, 2016
Stealth Marketing Stunt Gone Gorilla?
A month after the meeting, Xanthe actually created a song titled McRib Blues in effort to draw attention to this calamity. People who love the sandwich cheered her on (see some of the tweets), while others suspect this is possibly a gorilla style gimmick or ploy for fame. When asked, Xanthe of course denies the accusation.
“No,” Xanthe clarifies. “I understand why people think that. First of all, like the way I look, you see a tiny Asian girl with pink hair bringing up this issue that on the surface seems really silly, because they don’t know the entire story,” she was quoted as saying on KCRW’s blog.
She goes on to tell reporter Peter Gilstrap how her tale starts at a McDonald’s in Germany where they first chomped on pork shoulder meat after arriving from the Philippines. While the McRib makes short appearances in the United States, Germany has made the sandwich a permanent menu item. Xanthe’s story has elements of patriotism, military life, nostalgia, and even international flare. It illustrates how family bonds and tradition transcend borders, and that love is thicker than the vilest BBQ sauce.
I still think it’s a ruse.
Keep in mind that “McDonald’s remains one of the biggest single advertisers in the U.S.,” writes Adweek. “According to Kantar Media, the chain spent roughly $820 million on measured media in 2015 and $195 million in the first quarter of 2016.”
In an interview with Ad Age, McDonald’s U.S. Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl announced in August their new relationship with Omnicom — “a new agency of the future” that “really has digital and data at the heart, which allows us to be customer obsessed at a whole new level in everything that we do.”
They dropped Leo Burnett who they had been working with for the past 35 years, which is around the very same time the McRib was born.
Surely a Xanthe, whose story appeals to emotion and nostalgia, is a great first campaign. The sandwich’s horrid nutrient profile and toxic ingredients calls for all the support it can get.
The McRib was introduced in 1981, the same year MTV was born, Reagan got shot, and Ladi Di married Prince Charles. The chef Rene Arend also invented the McNuggets,which conveniently makes up the other half of the Pajarillo holiday tradition. While the McRib has been immortalized by Pop Culture thanks to the likes of Homer Simpson and The Flintstones, there’s a reason the sandwich only makes guest appearances. It’s gross and defiles the sanctity of food.
@DarkMatter2525 “As you may have guessed, this stunt was the work of aspiring comedian Xanthe Pajarillo.”
— Craig Jensen (@JollyJeenyus) December 5, 2016
The meat comes from Smithfield Foods, who have been accused of unsanitary living conditions, as well as a lack of proper animal welfare. Let’s not even venture to guess about the antibiotics and hormones.
Given its history and contents, the sandwich is simply a marketing tactic. Case in point: there was a McRib Farewell Tour in 2005, 2006, and 2007, almost making any association with the McRib a flat out farce.
In the words of talk show host John Oliver, the McRib is “tantalizing when unavailable, but ethically wrong when brought back.”