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The [Wednesday] Papers

There's so much villainy afoot I don't know where to begin.

So let's start with McRib.

"McDonald's McRib sandwich, despite several supposed farewell tours, is back for another limited run, serving an enthusiastic group of devotees," Phil Rosenthal writes in the Tribune on the marketing magic of scarcity.

"Hard to fathom they would be that hungry for a pork patty pressed into the shape of a small slab of ribs if it were a menu staple."

Is that so? Wouldn't McDonald's - and McRib fans - dearly love for the pressed pork patty to be a regular menu item. What prevents that from happening? Could it be . . .

. . . actual scarcity?!

It may be hard to fathom, but a friend who works as a food industry analyst and consultant once explained to me that there actually aren't enough pigs in the world to support McRib as a regular menu item.

Now, that's not what a McDonald's executive says in this story, nor a spokesperson in this one.

I believe my source.

One hint comes from the reporting done this week by Whet Moser, late of the Reader and now of Chicago magazine.

Within Whet's piece is a link to a Lincoln, Nebraska, Journal-Star article in which the "inventor" of McRib says:

"[T]he McRib comes and goes from the McDonald's menu for reasons that have to do with its intense popularity and a national supply of pork trimmings that's typically a lot more limited than the supply of beef trimmings."

That causes a rise in prices that McDonald's (and consumers) can't tolerate. If only there were enough pigs to go around! Then trimmings wouldn't be so sensitive to demand.

Seem unfathomable? Well, consider:

"Initially test-marketed in 1981, the McRib was the brainchild of McDonald's first executive chef, Rene Arend, who'd been plucked from the kitchen of a local luxury hotel and tasked with increasing the franchise's menu options," Maxim reported in 2009.

"Arend's most industry-altering achievement would prove to be the creation of the Chicken McNugget in 1979. And it was the success of the nugget that necessitated the immediate invention of the McRib.

"'The McNuggets were so well received that every franchise wanted them,' says Arend, now an 80-year-old retiree living in Chicago. 'There wasn't a system to supply enough chicken. We had to come up with something to give the other franchises as a new product. So the McRib came about because of the shortage of chickens.'"

So, yes, animal shortages exist. (We apparently also don't have enough apples to make applesauce a daily breakfast menu item.)

That's not to say that the McRib's scarcity isn't used as a marketing tool; it's just to say that the shortage is real enough.


Little did Bill Maher know when he declared a "new rule" last year that "McDonald's has to explain why it can only bring back McRib for a limited time. Are they afraid of spoiling us? Is there a global shortage of pork scrapings and smoke-flavored sugar sauce?"

Why yes, Bill, there is!

* Supermarkets Could Trigger Pork Shortage
* China's Pork Shortage Hitting Close To Home, Affecting Economy
* Supply Shortage Hikes Pork Prices
* ASF May Cause Pig Shortage In Russia
* Turkey's Pork Shortage
* There's A Shortage In Pork Bellies - So, Yes, Prices Are Rising
* Government Prods Pork Imports, Cites Shortage

Today In Occupy Chicago
Nurses vs. Rahm and other discontents.


To say the Occupy movement is getting lackluster local media coverage is an understatement; the protests aren't just nuisances but part of a phenomenal worldwide movement that is making history.

All those Baby Boomer editors pretending they were marching in the streets in the 60s - and all the more superior for it - and no clue as to what is happening and why. Get your heads around it, folks.

For a more dynamic (and global) view, just follow the Twitter feed of Occupy Chicago.


All those columns and editorials asking about the absence of outrage and imploring citizens to wake up and get involved and even take to the streets . . . empty thoughts with other agendas.


Isn't it funny, too, how suddenly the word "hippie" is back? Both because Baby Boomers apparently have no other frame of reference and also by its ironic, updated use by those formerly known as hipsters, who are now known as douchebags, who were once known as jocks.


The beauty of this movement is that it finally breaks the chokehold of the liberal-conservative, Democrat-Republican, red-blue continuum.

This isn't about left-right, it's about up-down.

And not of the 50-50 variety.

Perhaps the Age of Reagan is finally coming to a close.


See also: Revolution In The Air

The Theocracy
Theo Is Here, But The Best Is Still To Come.

(And from San Diego, of all places . . .)

Drummers Advance To Chicago Regionals!
Like this dude from Kansas City!

Fantasy Fix: Match-Ups Made In Heaven
Beware Tim Tebow.

Three Chicago(land) Halloween Displays
Burying the dead.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Coffin kicks.


Posted on October 26, 2011

MUSIC - Madonna vs. Moderna.
TV - Sundays With The Military-Industrial Complex.
POLITICS - Private Equity In The ER.
SPORTS - Suspicious Betting Trends In Soccer.

BOOKS - China Holding Swedish Publisher.


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