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The New Burger King Rib Sandwich vs. The Legendary McDonald’s McRib: Jersey Joe Declares the Winner [Kicking Back with Jersey Joe]

This summer, another fast food fight will heat up and it’s not over hamburgers, but pork!  Burger King has just begun serving up a BBQ Rib Sandwich to take on the McDonald’s McRib: a sandwich so out there – it has a cult following.  Can this new BK sandwich take the crown from the McRib?  I’m already declaring the victor!

The McDonald’s McRib may be one of the most mysterious, yet delicious sandwiches the restaurant has ever served up.  The McRib first went on sale nationwide in 1982 after a few months of test marketing.

The sandwich consists of a pork patty, dill pickles, onion slivers, and BBQ sauce on a dusty 5 ½” roll.  The McRib was not an immediate hit and was removed from all menus in 1985.  Since 1989, it would reappear regionally for only a few select weeks of the year.  Not every McDonald’s carried the item and only in select regions of the United States.  (A rare exception was when it was briefly sold nationally in 1994 to tie into The Flintstones Movie and a McRib, Jr. was briefly sold in 2000 on a regular hamburger bun.)

The limited availability of the sandwich gave it a large cult following with some McRib addicts (such as me) driving to another state to get one.  When I first moved to the New York City area, no local McDonald’s sold it, leaving me to drive to southern New Jersey or Pennsylvania.

My Double McRib from Las Vegas a few years ago.

Double McRib in Las Vegas a few years ago.

I also once got to enjoy a Double McRib, a sort of secret version, at a McDonald’s on the southern end of the Las Vegas strip.

The sandwich became so popular; it was even parodied on an episode of The Simpsons and made fun of on How I Met Your Mother.

A website, The McRib Locator, allows fans to track where the sandwich is being served in the United States each year.

Even after a series of promotional campaigns saying they would end the sandwich, McDonald’s again serves McRibs nationwide for a few weeks each year.  It was last served in the US from December 2012 – early February 2013.  A location will serve what they have until supplies run out.

Every time the sandwich is served, McDonald’s core sales increase by several percent.  People do flock to their restaurants for one.  When the McRib was offered for sale in New Zealand, it was supposed to be for a six week run to tie into the Olympic Games, but hungry fans exhausted supplies in days!


The Burger KIng Rib Sandwich 

Looking to cash in on the sandwich’s fame and to boost sales this summer, Burger King has introduced their own version: The Burger King Rib Sandwich.

The Burger King Rib Sandwich follows the same basic build as the McRib, but with a few differences.  While both contain pork meat ground up into a boneless patty, Burger King’s seems to have a more solid consistency.  A Time magazine article has found the McRib is made with 70 different ingredients, including fillers that are also used to make athletic gym mats.

McDonald’s McRib sauce is a bit spicy; where as Burger King’s sauce is a bit sweet.

The pickles McDonald’s uses on their McRib are dill, where The Burger King Rib Sandwich’s are sweet.

There are NO onions on the Burger King Rib Sandwich.

Inside The Burger King Rib Sandwich

Inside The Burger King Rib Sandwich

McDonald’s uses a small hoagie style roll to serve theirs’ and the patty is rectangular, where as Burger King uses an artesian roll and their patty is circular.

I hit the drive through at the Burger King near the Holland Tunnel and ordered up the value meal that includes fries or onion rings and a drink.  Both restaurants offer a small, medium, or large value meal.  I chose the medium for my dinner and the cost was $6.39, plus tax.  (Suggested price for the sandwich alone is $3.49)

I could see the countdown clock behind the drive through window and the whole transaction took just under 4 minutes and I was on my way.

Lately, Burger King has been serving their premium items in a cardboard box, but the rib sandwich was served in a simple paper burger wrapper.  The McRib, on the other hand, is served in a small cardboard box.

I’ve probably eaten a zillion McRibs in my lifetime.  I make sure to get my fill every time the sandwich is back and judging by my waste line, I know my McRib.  I was really excited BK put this on the menu and readied myself for my first bite.

The sweetness of the BBQ sauce combined with the sweet pickles is noticed right away.  Those flavors are followed by a hint of flame broiled taste that Burger King is known for.  You can clearly see the grill marks on the patty and the pork appears a light white color.  The McRib usually takes on a dark grey to brownish hue underneath all the sauce.

The McRib oozes BBQ all over the place; here there are only a few generous dabs of it on the bun.  It’s certainly not as messy.

The flavors really work and I don’t see the need to add onions. I guess you can if you really want to as Burger King does do special orders.

The rib sandwich has 560 calories and 31g of fat.  The McRib clocks in a little healthier at 500 calories and 26g of fat.

The Burger King Rib Sandwich has just gone on sale and it is way too early for sales to declare a victor… but I am ready to!

I love the McRib, I love the taste, I love the mysteriousness of it, and it just makes for a good meal.  I didn’t know that it could be possible to improve on it… but, Burger King has!

The taste is 250% better for the Burger King Rib Sandwich over the McRib.  Flame broiling the patty gives it not only a better looking appearance, but a better taste.  Ever try a bite of a McRib that doesn’t have the sauce?  Not so good.  Here, you don’t need the hot mess of sauce.  (and I love BBQ sauce…!)  My only little suggestion would be for Burger King to add a little more.

Now, will BK win the overall BBQ sandwich war…? I doubt it, but I hope they do.  The cult following behind the McRib will be hard to win over, but if die hard fans give this new BK sandwich a try, it could.

Burger King would be smart to heavily market their winning taste sandwich and make sure that it gets back on the menu from time to time to keep interest in it.  Outside of a few newspaper articles, they haven’t really marked this sandwich much.  Get a big national commercial campaign on the air and cash in (maybe that is in the works).  Burger King has the winning taste, now it’s up to their marketing department to take this thing all the way to the finish line!



THE 411

Name: The Burger King Rib Sandwich

What: BBQ rib sandwich served for a limited time at Burger King restaurants

Availability: nationwide at Burger King restaurants



In the McRib vs. Burger King Rib Sandwich war – the Burger King Rib Sandwich is the winner.  The taste is far superior.  Congratulations to BK and make sure you definitely give this a try!  Let me know what you think!