I subscribe to a daily e-mail from a website called Food News Journal. The site links to what its editors think are the most interesting food and beverage articles and blogs from the previous day. Today, three of the 10 news articles had something to do with McDonald’s. Ironically, two of them fall under the “McDonald’s is garbage” category and the third falls under “But people don’t care that McDonald’s is garbage” category. 


One article was about San Francisco voters passing a ban on toys in unhealthy fast-food meals aimed at children. While the ban isn’t McDonald’s-specific, it’s commonly referred to as a ban on Happy Meal toys. Our family blogger Jenn thinks it’s a decision that parents might want to celebrate. As for me ... well I just can’t believe that it’s something that anyone needs a law for, and honestly, I don’t think it’s going to make much difference. (See Is Ronald McDonald really the problem? for my take on fast-food advertising and incentives to children.)

There’s also a link to a story about a McDonald’s manager in Brazil who sued the company because he gained 65 pounds while working there. He felt forced to eat the food every day to make sure it was up to the quality demanded. He was awarded $17,500. Really?

It seems that voters in San Francisco and the courts in Brazil see McDonald’s food as a health problem. And, yes, a steady diet of food like that served at McDonald’s is obviously a health problem.

Yet — and this brings us to the third piece that Food News Journal linked to today — it’s also obviously a problem that many people are willing to ignore. The elusive McRib, a sandwich that only shows up once in a while on select McDonald’s menus, is available at every McDonald’s in the United States at the same time for the first time ever. The frenzy that McRib lovers are having is much like the excitement I have over the short New Jersey strawberry season or the first week of Jersey corn in July. “Get it now while you can! It won’t be around forever, and when it’s gone you’ll miss it!”

According to the Chicago Tribune, the McRib has 500 calories, 26 grams of fat, 980 milligrams of sodium, and legions of die hard, salivating fans.

There are McRib Facebook pages. A McRib Locator website that fans can use once all restaurants stop serving them and they go back to being served only for a short time at select restaurants. A Twitter search for “McRib” turns up more than 30 tweets about the sandwich in the last five minutes. More than 17,000 Facebook users have linked to the Yahoo piece on the The McRib Returns.

The fact that all three of these items are news on the same day says a lot about the general attitude most people have about fast food. We know it’s bad in general. We know we shouldn’t be feeding kids a steady diet of it. We know adults shouldn’t eat too much of it, either. Yet, many people are passionate about it — even though they know better. I don’t understand it.

Or do I? Before I start judging the McRib addicts too harshly, I need to remind myself of the inner struggle that I’ll be wrestling with in January when the Girl Scouts bring out those little green boxes of cookies that aren’t good for me, but are available for a limited time only. 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Irony of the McDonald's McRib frenzy
San Francisco bans Happy Meal toys, a McDonald’s manager wins a lawsuit for getting fat on the job, yet eaters become frenzied for the McRib.