CHICAGO (Reuters) - McDonald's McRib sandwich, a boneless pork patty molded to look like ribs and covered with barbecue sauce, is returning to the chain's restaurants this fall to the delight of fans and dismay of dietitians.
In 2010, the McRib returned to McDonald's nationally for the first time in 16 years, sparking a 4.8 percent U.S. sales increase last November.
Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald's said on Monday that sales spike "best showcased the passion consumers exhibit for this elusive sandwich," and drove the fast-food chain to return the McRib to the menu again as a limited-time offer through November 14.
McDonald's said there have been several online petitions for the return of the sandwich. It has also been referenced in pop culture -- an episode of "The Simpsons" has Homer craving the Krusty Burger "Ribwich."
The McRib has 500 calories, 26 grams of fat and 980 milligrams of sodium. "It's a high calorie sandwich in general," said Heather Morris, a dietitian at the Chicago-area Loyola University Medical Center.
Morris said the barbecue sauce and the fact it's not available all the time probably explains part of the sandwich's appeal.
"It unfortunately does attract people, but does not contribute to a healthy diet. I work on the stroke unit, and this is something I would advise patients against eating because of the high sodium content and saturated fat level."
(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Jerry Norton)