By Carmel Lobello
The McRib is nasty. Nobody—McDonald’s included—has made any bones about it (crappy pun intended). One serving has 28 grams of fat, 8 of which are saturated, and 890mgs of sodium. Eating them daily would be like getting your nutrients from a crisco-slathered salt-lick attached to the wall by your bed.
Besides being nutritionally vapid, the pork-based sandwich is gross to look at: The bun is bright white and otherwise nondescript, and the meat is grey, lumpy, and molded into the shape of a small dog’s rib cage. As pointed out by Time’s Healthland blog late last week, the horrible sandwich is made from a full 70 ingredients—34 of which are found in the bun. Among those ingredients: “azodicarbonamide, ammonium sulfate and polysorbate 80.”
These components are in small enough quantities 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.)
Since Time pointed it out, many new sites have rehashed the horrible fact that the cult favorite shares an ingredient with yoga mats. But I’m not so sure this should be surprising. Eating a McRib is not exactly an intellectual act, and breaking down and analyzing the ingredients is about as pointless as counting ketchup as a vegetable.
As best shown by Homer in the clip below, eating a McRib (which “The Simpsons”‘s Ribwich was based off) is hardcore. Part of the fun is that it almost kills you.
In fact, I almost think the news that the McRib contains an ingredient most commonly found in yoga mats is a plus for fans. It allows them to defy and in a way desecrate the supposedly healthiest, most spiritually enlightening form of exercise while (hopefully) surviving the McRib experience. Gym mats in the bun doesn’t make it gross—it makes it better.
I’m not saying everyone should suck it up and eat a McRib—in fact, the sandwich’s “cult following” should thank their lucky stars it isn’t available year round. I’m just saying the McRib is nasty—and that’s the point.