McDonald's reveals McRib secrets to former MythBuster

Is it pork? Is it made from plastic yoga mats? Former "MythBusters" host Grant Imahara joins a McDonald's skeptic to find out what exactly goes inside a McRib patty.

Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
3 min read

Are you eating meat or a yoga mat when biting into McDonald's McRib? Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

What exactly goes inside a McDonald's McRib? Is it pork or beef? Is the shape important? Why call it a McRib if there's no rib in the sandwich? Does the McRib contain the same plastic found in yoga mats? McDonald's is giving the public answers on one of its most popular sandwiches.

According to McDonald's, "some of the biggest questions about our food revolve around the McRib." So the company sent "="" host="" grant="" imahara"="" shortcode="link" asset-type="article" uuid="a279698e-e6c0-43f2-8a2a-d65ee1dcd57a" slug="mythbusters-drops-hosts-kari-byron-grant-imahara-tory-belleci" link-text="former " section="news" title="'MythBusters' drops hosts Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci" edition="us" data-key="link_bulk_key" api="{"id":"a279698e-e6c0-43f2-8a2a-d65ee1dcd57a","slug":"mythbusters-drops-hosts-kari-byron-grant-imahara-tory-belleci","contentType":null,"edition":"us","topic":{"slug":"culture"},"metaData":{"typeTitle":null,"hubTopicPathString":"Culture","reviewType":null},"section":"news"}"> to tackle the difficult questions consumers might have about the McRib, as part of its new campaign called "Our Food. Your Questions."

The promotional campaign aims to reveal the truth about what's in McDonald's food. Imahara has already gone behind the scenes at a food-processing plant to get the facts on whether McDonald's uses pink slime in its burgers. The below video is the second installment in the fast-food chain's attempt address rumors and myths about its food.

McDonald's has been using social media to field questions from customers and skeptics alike. In fact, for this video, McDonald's asked high school teacher Wes Bellamy -- who tweeted disparaging things about the McRib -- to join Imahara on a visit to Lopez Foods, one of McDonald's U.S. pork suppliers, to get some answers.

Imahara and Bellamy meet up with Lopez Vice President Kevin Nanke, who reveals at the food-processing plant what's in the McDonald's McRib patty -- ground pork.

"The only thing in a McRib patty is pork, water, salt, dextrose -- which is a type of sugar -- and preservatives which are BHA, propyl gallate and citric acid which as used to lock in the flavor," Nanke explains in the video.

The McRib patty is formed with a special press that molds the meat to look like a rack of ribs. Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Nanke then shows Imahara and Bellamy the mammoth assembly machine that molds each patty into the iconic McRib shape and flash-freezes it. Once the pair sees what the frozen McRib looks like, Bellamy seems to go from skeptic to convert rather quickly.

"Now that I know what actually goes inside of it and I know what actually the process is in terms of making it, it's actually good pork," Bellamy says in the video.

Gai Pahamark, food safety, quality and regulatory technician at Lopez Foods, shows Imahara and Bellamy that the company tests the food by cooking the patties exactly how they would be prepared at a McDonald's fast-food joint.

When both Imahara and Bellamy admit to never having eaten a McRib before, Nanke shows them the process of putting together the McRib, complete with the BBQ sauce marinade, pickles, onions and buns. After they dig into their McRib sandwiches, Bellamy seems satisfied with their quest to get to the truth.

Who knew McDonald's had a food historian on staff? Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

"All of my questions have been answered," Bellamy says. "The sandwich is pretty good, man. It's actually really good."

If that still didn't answer all the other questions from skeptics, McDonald's also released even more videos this week explaining why the McRib is seasonal (because McDonald's likes to change the menu throughout the year like it does with other food items such as the Shamrock Shake).

And if you want to know where the McRib came from, Jessica Farrell, McDonald's assistant archivist, explains that in 1980, McDonald's wanted a special winter sandwich, so it sent its executive chef to South Carolina, where he ate a slab of ribs that then inspired the McRib.

While some of the videos seem silly rather than informative, the behind-the-scenes look at how McDonald's processes meat to make sandwiches is an interesting way to attract customers. After two sandwiches have been dissected, it'll be interesting to see we get videos featuring fries, pies or something else less meaty.

Either way, McDonald's seems to be listening to your tweets, so give them all your probing questions. Like, what the heck is that Grimace mascot supposed to be?