Friday, November 12, 2010

McRib Taste Test - I'm Not Lovin' It

"OMG!  The McRib is back!"

"Gotta get my McRib's the best!"


I've read far too many Facebook posts about the wondrous taste of the McDonald's McRib sandwich in the last week.  I've never tried one, figuring it could never match the hype.  It's not like it would become my favorite McD's meal, topping my two cheeseburger extra value meal with sweet and sour sauce for dipping french fries, right?  I don't see how a patty of mystery ingredients pressed into a pork rib shape and covered in BBQ could elicit such outspokenness from college educated adults on my news feed.

Never one to turn away from digestible curiosity and family pressure, I took the plunge to find out for myself.  $3 to $4 later the McRib was mine.  I made sure to order my go-to extra value meal as a backup just in case this 450-calorie, 890-mg of sodium(!) godsend chock full of 24 grams of fat didn't make my mouth water.  What better way to undo the exercise I enjoyed and calories I burned than a McDonald's dinner.

Let's begin with what techie fanboys call, unboxing the goods.

Nothing says temptation like "TANGY TEMPTATION" IN ALL CAPS.

 I quickly learned that some of the sandwich's charm is its messiness.  I should've asked for it to be sliced in half my way.  Oh, that's Burger King's tagline.

Nothing like an uninspiring first impression.  Just a bun with BBQ sauce and the mystery "meat".

Bite #1 was just okay.  The meat had little pork-like flavor, the BBQ sauce was good and sweet, but nothing worthy of fanaticism.  The bread was dry, but who eats anything from McDonald's for the bread?

Oh, so there really are onions and maybe two pickle slices in there somewhere. 

Halfway through the McRib and I was finished.  There was no discernible flavor to the meat, the BBQ sauce was too sweet after a few bites, and as usual for a McD's sandwich there were far too few pickle slices.  The McRib failed its test.

McDonald's knows you give your customers what they want, even if it's to offer a bland sandwich every few years.

 When the McRib isn't widely available again after this month, remember that I chose to throw half of mine away.  Like anything hyped beyond belief, the McRib is nothing special.  My two cheeseburgers with french fries in sweet and sour sauce never tasted so good.

If you want a sandwich that matches the hype, go for a Wendy's spicy chicken sandwich combo with a frosty.  Add some McD's fries with sweet and sour sauce and you're good to go.  Even better, it's always available.  OMG!  THIS IS THE BEST FAST FOOD SANDWICH EVER!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

NOTM: Man Microwaves Perfect Bowl of Oatmeal

Washington, D.C. - The scientific method of trial and error has lead to a new wave of federal grants to study the relationship between thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and whole grain oats.  On Tuesday morning, Morris Herlis microwaved the perfect bowl of Quaker Instant Oatmeal for his breakfast at work.

 Offering six grams of fiber and assorted whole grain oat ingredients including: pyridoxine hydrochloride, acesulfame potassium, and maltodextrin.

Morris said that he had been experimenting with water content, bowl structure, and microwave time for several months.  He worked tirelessly to find the best way to cook a bowl of oatmeal without making a mess in the company microwave, lest he hear from senior marketing specialist Beth Steinkatz who Morris called, "the kitchen cleanliness police chief".

"I don't really know what I did to cook my oatmeal for two minutes straight without spilling over the bowl's edge," Morris said humbly.  What is clear is that Morris reduced the amount of water used to an amount between too much and too little, used a deeper Crate and Barrel Roulette Blue Band Bowl, and got very lucky.

The bowl that cooked a perfect packet of maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal.

An underachieving overthinker, Morris spent each morning trying different combinations to cook his Weight Control oatmeal pouches.  Unable to grasp the concept of recording each test's settings to fine tune the next day's controls, every cooking event was an absolute shot in the dark to not spill.  Like stumbling upon a wad of 100-dollar bills, Morris has not been able to cook a clean bowl of oatmeal since.

"Each morning I shake all of those oats and powder into my bowl, run it under the water cooler, and toss it into the microwave for two minutes," Morris said.  "I use the light inside the microwave to watch the oatmeal bubble.  Sometimes I act too late to stop some slop from going over the edge, but I clean it up at least.  I always get blamed for a messy microwave even though it's impossible for oatmeal to shoot up to the ceiling and look like tomato sauce." 

Looks like somebody forgot to put a paper towel on that Lean Cuisine.

A newly self-minted expert on heat conduction and dispersion, Morris said heat transfer journals and books increased his understanding of the forces at work.  "Anyone with half a brain knows that Welty, Wicks, and Wilson were talking about my oatmeal's properties in 'Fundamentals of Momentum, Heat and Mass Transfer.' NOTM pressed Morris for further explanation. 

"They claimed that 'A fluid is defined as a substance that deforms continuously under the action of sheer stress' which I also observed when I added too much water," Morris said.  "My oatmeal is the best example of compressibility's effects yet.  Those guys should have used my workday breakfast to better relate to a bunch of college kids."  Morris claimed he has read more than the free preview pages on, but NOTM has no reason to believe him.

Somewhere, someone understands how this graph of thermodynamics applies to a bowl of microwaved oatmeal; and it's not Morris Herlis.

The key to observing a bowl of microwaved oatmeal, Morris said, is to keep the kitchen lights off so the microwave light is not washed out.  Using this revolutionary method, Morris observed that his oatmeal had, in fact, survived 120 consecutive seconds without spillage.  He jumped in the air and pumped his fist.  Unfortunately, no co-workers were in yet so they could not celebrate with him as Morris undoubtedly thinks would have happened. 

Morris opened the door and grabbed his steaming bowl without his trusty heat dispersion paper towels.  Despite the ever-increasing skin burn, Morris tried to carry the bowl to his office by saying, "owww, owwww, hot hot hot."  It was not enough.

Morris dropped his perfect bowl of oatmeal, choosing to make a mess of the hallway instead of third-degree burns.  An hour later, oatmeal was still soaking into the carpet, prompting Steinkatz to say, "looks like you can add this cleaning job to your tomato sauce artwork in the microwave."