David Segal’s The Haggler column in the New York Times business section is your basic consumer-advocate bullhorn — write in, complain about poor service, and the Haggler will hassle companies on your behalf.
Segal’s most recent column, about a bizarre auto-loan problem, had an unusual introduction: a riff on the absurdity of food companies advertising that their products contain exactly what they’re supposed to.
Segal’s particular target was McDonald’s, which has lately taken to advertising its McRib sandwich with the slogan “It’s real pork!”
As Segal noted, he’s complained about this special variety of idiocy before, specifically fruit products that contain, you know, real fruit. So Segal got to work on the Mickey D’s PR department:
“This year we wanted to emphasize the real quality pork that goes into the McRib,” wrote Ofelia Casillas of the company’s media relations department, “along with the other ingredients that make the sandwich special.”
Hmm. But McDonald’s isn’t stressing the quality of the pork, the Haggler wrote back. It’s stressing the porkiness of the pork. How come? Isn’t the porkiness pretty much implied?
This e-mail did not elicit a response.
In fact, as Yahoo! Finance noted last fall, when the McRib was reintroduced to the McDonald’s menu, the sandwich features something called "restructured meat product" that “contains a mixture of tripe, heart, and scalded stomach, which is then mixed with salt and water to extract proteins from the muscle.”
Finding a use for meat trimmings that would otherwise go to waste is certainly laudable. But if you want a rib sandwich, wouldn’t it be nice to have, you know, a real rib sandwich?