McDonald's McRib mythbuster: Watch Grant Imahara and Wes Bellamy see how McRibs are made.

McDonald’s Brings in a Mythbuster to Prove Its McRibs Aren’t That Gross

McDonald’s Brings in a Mythbuster to Prove Its McRibs Aren’t That Gross

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Nov. 4 2014 2:49 PM

McDonald’s Brings in a Mythbuster to Prove Its McRibs Aren’t That Gross

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His first McRib.

There are a lot of questions about the McDonald's McRib. Is it real pork? Does it contain plastic? Will it bounce? McDonald's also isn't too crazy about some of these questions. So in an effort to dispel some of the more unflattering queries about its signature barbecue item, the company has released a new video on YouTube featuring self-declared McRib skeptic and TV personality Grant Imahara.

The segment comes as McDonald's is struggling to revive interest in its fast-food offerings. Late last month, the company reported a 30 percent decline in profit in the third quarter and a 3.3 percent decrease in sales. It's being buffeted on all sides by widespread consumer skepticism, unshakable images of pink slime, and a seemingly undying love for Chipotle. So McDonald's is buckling down. As The New Yorker reports, it's launched a campaign to promote transparency and invited questions from the public. It's rolling out a series of videos and hired Imahara to be their investigative face. And come early next year, the champion of "I'm lovin' it" is also expected to debut a new slogan—one that perhaps acknowledges McDonalds' recent woes: "Lovin' Beats Hatin'."

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In the five-minute clip on the McRib, Imahara along with teacher and nonprofit director Wes Bellamy go to Oklahoma City to see how the McRib is prepared. Kevin Nanke, vice president of McDonald's U.S. pork supplier Lopez Foods, explains to them (and us) that the only ingredients in a McRib are pork, water, dextrose, and preservatives to "lock in the flavor." They watch as the minced meat is pressed into a McRib-like shape and then flash-frozen to be boxed and shipped; the segment ends with Bellamy and Imahara each eating their first McRib sandwich. For the record, we don't ever see Imahara take more than one bite of his McRib.

One theory about the McRib is that McDonald's only promotes the sandwich when pork prices are low. While it's hard to confirm whether some form of McArbitrage is going on, it is noteworthy that pork futures have fallen pretty steadily since July and tend to hit lows during the fall. From that perspective, McDonald's Monday release of the McRib video makes a lot of sense beyond just its transparency campaign.

Alison Griswold is a Slate staff writer covering business and economics.