Posted by: Jeremiah Graves | October 25, 2010

RIP: McDonald’s Embargo (Feb. 13, 2009 – Oct. 25, 2010)

The McDonald’s Embargo died today.

It was less than two years old (one year, eight months and 13 days, to be exact), but we always knew the lifespan would not be a lengthy one, didn’t we, my Faithful Readers?

It was a mere 620 days ago that the McDonald’s Embargo was born. It was on a dreary Friday night in February when I realized I’d become a regular—like to the point where they knew my order when I walked in the door—at a McDonald’s in a major metropolitan area.

I’d never become a regular at any establishment in the Midwest. Heck, most places in Hartley, Iowa, still don’t recognize me when I meander in the door. Yet, somehow I’d become a regular at a freakin’ fast food establishment that serves thousands of people a day.

Not cool.

I shunned the golden arches; gave it up cold turkey and never looked back. All the while, I knew that if the McRib ever beckoned, I’d cast aside the Embargo faster than you can say “Super Size It!!”

Although there were some close calls during the first tumultuous year the Embargo and I survived largely unscathed.

It seemed like nothing could stop us. I’d lost most of my temptation for McDonald’s and it appeared as though the elusive McRib had no intentions of returning.

There was a brief scare in late 2009 when the McRib began to resurface, but that sweet, succulent pork patty never got close to Boston.

This didn’t surprise me any. I’d vowed time and time again to only break my Embargo for the McRib and I was able to make such a hearty proclamation because I’d heard from many-a-source that Boston never gets the McRib.

No, no—for reasons that I can only assume are related to terrorism—the fine inhabitants of New England have been denied the bounty of the McRib in favor of some frightening concoction called the McLobster.

That all changed a few weeks ago with the official announcement that McDonald’s was busting the McRib out of retirement (yet again) and taking it—*GASP*—nationwide.

Within a day of the official announcement roughly a dozen people had emailed, texted, skywritten, carrier-pigeoned, forwarded, and linked the news to me. My heart was a flutter—as was my gallbladder—and I knew that the Embargo would soon come to an untimely demise. I just didn’t know how soon.

The McRibs were originally intended to be unleashed upon the nation on November 2nd (undoubtedly part of some right-wing plot to rig the elections), but the incomparable McRib Locator started blowing up with sightings early last week and the deluge hasn’t slowed any. It became obvious that the McRibs were out and they were out early.

The time had come to end the Embargo.

You see, when I was growing up in Iowa the McRib was not nearly this hard to come by. It’d usually appear once or twice a year for limited engagements and you’d get a hit of the barbecue-slathered goodness and call it good.

However, as I got older the McRib’s appearances become more and more scarce. As a result, I’d find myself gorging every time I encountered a McRib on a McDonald’s menu. I am roughly 90% sure that I only had two McRibs the entire time I was in college. One on a fateful roadtrip home to do laundry my freshman year and another—my last McRib (prior to today, that is)—my senior year.

The last time I ate a McRib was November 10, 2005 at a rinky-dink McDonald’s in Pipestone, Minnesota.

My company that evening was the esteemed John Kunkel as we road-tripped south to visit Steven Kunkel at Southwest Northwest Missouri State University for a weekend of debauchery.

In fact, here is a direct excerpt from my blog documenting that trip:

We drove for about 45 minutes and snagged some Micky-D’s in Pipestone. The freakin’ McRib is back man! We couldn’t pass that up! Oh delectable pork compound covered in goo and placed on a bun…MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!

Even back then, whilst writing like a tool and overusing exclamation points, I knew the importance of stopping to snag a McRib when the opportunity presents itself.

If only I’d known how right I was to force Johnny to pull over that night. That was the last McRib I’d encounter, until today.

For the math nerds in the audience (and/or anyone who has ever been held hostage and likes to compare stats) here be the facts:

Time Elapsed Between McRibs

Last McRib: Thursday, November 10, 2005
Today: Monday, October 25, 2010

It is 1811 days from the start date to the end date.

Or 4 years, 11 months, 16 days including the end date

Alternative time units:

* 156,470,400 seconds
* 2,607,840 minutes
* 43,464 hours
* 258 weeks(ish)

As you can see, it has been a long and arduous road to get where I am today. I’ve survived not only the Embargo itself but nearly five years—or roughly 20% of my life—without having tasted the ambrosia that is the McRib.

That all changed this afternoon, in a big way.

In a big, disgusting way.

As a result of the Embargo, I felt a strange feeling wash over my when I sauntered into the McDonald’s. It should be noted that the mere act of stepping into the McDonald’s involved walking by—and making moderately-awkward conversation with—a homeless person who frequents my place of employment.

The first encounter struck me as a bad omen in and of itself, but I forged on. Once inside, the gal waiting to take my order was the same one who had remembered my order on that fateful February night nearly two years ago.

I took a deep breath and calmly made my order…

Cap’n Charisma: “I’ll have the McRib value meal…”
Mickey-D’s Lifer: “Okay…what size?!”
Cap’n Charisma: “Just the regular, a medium or whatever…”

I began to sweat. It felt like I was having an affair and I was bound to get caught.

Mickey-D’s Lifer: “Anything else?”
Cap’n Charisma: “Um…I…Uh…”
Mickey-D’s Lifer: “Sir…anything else?”

It was at that moment that I felt what little willpower I had left seep out of me and I gave into the sweet, barbecue-soaked temptation.

Cap’n Charisma: “Yes. I’ll have two more McRibs.”
Mickey-D’s Lifer: “Two…two more McRibs?”
Cap’n Charisma: “Yeah…two more McRibs.”

Now she looked a little confused and perhaps even scared.

I’d like to think it’s because I’d called her bluff. She could tell I’m a recovering fastfoodaholic and she wanted to see if she could push my buttons and nettle me a little bit and I wasn’t going to take it. I was going to dive in whole hog…literally. That’s a lot of f’n pork.

In reality, she was probably disgusted by my order and the fearful look was induced when she contemplated having to clean up the mess and fill out all the paperwork after I dropped over dead in the middle of the restaurant.

Personally, I prefer the first scenario, because I’m slightly less of a disgusting fat bastard on his way to a speedy, pork-induced demise, but to each his/her own.

The worst part was the wait. It took like fifteen minutes for ‘em to get my three McRibs ready.

I can only imagine I was the first dude in New England to order one—again because everyone has been conditioned to choke down those effing McLobsters instead of fine boneless pork patties—and they had no idea what to do.

I’d like to think they had to go out and catch and kill one of their free-range, vegan pigs for me, but I feel like the time-line doesn’t lend itself to that theory.

It is far more likely that they spent ten minutes giggling that someone actually ordered one of those ridiculous looking sandwiches. I assume the next five minutes was spent flipping through some sort of crude instruction manual from the ‘80s to figure out how to construct ‘em.

If you were to ask Grace how they are constructed her answer would be—um—less than eloquent:

Anyway, so I eventually got my three McRibs and my fries and headed to a back table. I pulled out the sammitches and realized they’d neglected to give me any napkins. I’d just ordered three—count ‘em THREE—of the sloppiest items on the menu and received no napkins.

I can’t help but feel like this was McDonald’s way to get back at me for neglecting them for nearly two years after serving as such a loyal minion for so long. I went to snag napkins, but alas, this McDonald’s doesn’t have them free for the world to take. So I had to wait in line, as my poor McRibs sat idly by, undoubtedly thinking they’d been abandoned.

I finally got to the front of the line and got my napkins. They handed them over with a grin. The kind of grin that says “welcome back, kid…you’re ours again.”

I sauntered back to my table and opened up the first box.

It was glorious. Nothing had changed from the way I remembered it. Granted, this is McDonald’s and it’s entirely possible this very McRib could have been manufactured at the same time as my last one, but who really gives a rat’s ass?! Not this guy, because it was freakin’ awesome.

I tore through the first one. Enjoying the sweet, salty goodness of the sammitch and I immediately plowed through the second one. At some point, I’m fairly sure I stopped to breath and maybe nibble on some fries, but I can’t completely vouch for that one way or another.

I took a minute after the second McRib to get my wits about me. I took a long drag on my Coke. I ate a handful of fries. I prepared to dive into the third one when I realized that I’d yet to capture any photo evidence of my bounty. I took a picture of the three McRib caskets and then I took a picture of the third member of my tiny boneless army.

…and then I ate him.

I practically skipped home, except that I was so full skipping would have made me hurl. So I guess it wasn’t so much a skip as it was a slow—but jaunty—limp back to my apartment.

So there you have it, my Faithful Readers, the McDonald’s Embargo has officially come to an end.

I’m proud to say that I was strong enough to hold out until the McRib returned as I’d originally intended. There were a lot of people—myself included—who didn’t expect me to make it beyond the first month, let alone for the better part of two years, but I pulled it off.

I may restart the Embargo after the McRibs disappearing into the ether for another half-decade or so, but I might just attempt something Grace keeps talking about called “moderation” (or something like that).

I’m not entirely sure what it is, but it sounds pretty nifty.

Either way, thanks for the support to all y’all who were behind the Embargo all the way.

Let me show my thanks by taking you out for a McRib…or six.



  1. I also enjoyed a McRib today, but only 1 not 3.


    • I suppose one, rather than three, is just a bit more sensible.

      Perhaps that’s how I’ll get my McRib action from now on, in smaller, less cringe-worthy doses.


  2. Correction: Northwest Missouri State University


    • …you know the entire time I was writing that, something didn’t feel right and I couldn’t seem to grasp what the hell it was…thanks for the correction. Fixing it now!


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  9. […] Embargo lasted for a little more than a year-and-a-half until the return of the infamous McRib shattered it to […]


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