First, let’s get this out of the way: Yes, I personally believe that McDonald’s is an evil, nefarious company that is largely responsible for causing an obesogenic environment that compromises human health on a global scale. And at the same time, I deeply mistrust anyone who tells me that they don’t like food from McDonald’s. It’s literally (allegedly… not trying to get sued) scientifically manipulated to be addictive. Your palate isn’t that sophisticated; you’re just classist.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I think it’s time that we come to terms with the reality of two of the chain’s most famous non-permanent menu items. The McRib is perhaps the most well-known on-again, off-again McDonald’s menu item, and the hype around it is intense. It makes an appearance every few months, with long-enough breaks that keep people wanting more without prompting an uprising. Some people are so obsessed with their love for the sandwich that there’s actually a McRib locator.
Another less-celebrated impermanent menu item is the Snack Wrap. It first made its debut in 2006, and at the time, it was a reset in my young life. I had never had a go-to McDonald’s order before that point, but once the Snack Wrap appeared, you could bet that I would always order one when I made my way through the drive-thru. It was basically just some chicken tenders in a tortilla with some shredded lettuce and a delectable, creamy sauce, but it was glorious in its simplicity. And, true to the name, it was more snack-sized than meal-sized. You could order a single one as a little treat or double up for a full meal if you’re always ravenous like I am.
But, alas, the Snack Wrap was discontinued in 2016. Last year, though, there were some rumblings about the popular wrap coming back into McDonald’s stores. It seemed like the Snack Wrap lovers had come out of the woodwork to celebrate. I didn’t realize there were so many like me who had revered the Snack Wrap and who were anxiously awaiting its return.
However, it turns out that we’re not going to be that lucky. Near the end of 2021, McDonald’s confirmed that they were not, in fact, bringing back the iconic Snack Wrap. It mostly came down to a timing issue: It just took too long for workers to throw the dish together to make it worth the company’s time. Snack Wrap lovers everywhere groaned in defeat.
But it got me thinking… Of all the McDonald’s menu items that could be celebrated and make frequent returns to the menu, why the McRib? I genuinely do not understand the hype. It’s a sad meat patty drenched in sickly sweet sauce. The onions and pickles are a good addition, but that’s really all it has going for it. It’s a sad little sandwich. I’m not saying it should be banned from the menu forever; I’m just questioning the hold it has on our society. Let’s be honest: If it were always available, most people would probably never bother ordering it. It’s been given a false sense of value simply because of its artificial scarcity.
Why are we not collectively losing our minds over the Snack Wrap instead? I mean, how many of us actually want to order an entire meal from McDonald’s on a regular basis? I can’t remember the last time I had a full-size sandwich from the chain, but I might just become a regular if I could snag a Snack Wrap on my way home every time I have one too many beers on a Wednesday night.
To me, it’s just obvious that the Snack Wrap has much more universal appeal. Not everyone is into ribs, but I don’t know any meat eater who can honestly say that they would turn up their nose at a piece of fried chicken. And I get it—the Snack Wrap takes more time to make, so I totally understand why it’s not usually on the menu. But if you’re going to revamp your kitchen to resurrect the McRib every few months, why could you not do the same for the Snack Wrap?
Whether you should even be giving your money to McDonald’s at all is another matter. But it makes me feel even worse to support them financially when they clearly have such questionable taste. And it genuinely worries me for society that we can’t even band together against the capitalistic forces that be to obtain something as simple as a weeklong return of the Snack Wrap—one of our last symbols of normalcy before the world started to fall apart.
Samantha Maxwell is a food writer and editor based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @samseating.