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McRib Locator: How to track elusive McDonald's sandwich

McRib Locator website lets fans know where the sandwich is being sold.

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In this 2008 file photo, a McDonald's restaurant sign is seen in Tonawanda, N.Y. Does the local restaurant serve the elusive McRib? Not according to a fan website called the McRib Locator.

David Duprey/AP/File

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McRib fans are a rabid lot. They're known to drive hundreds of miles to get the elusive rib-shaped pork sandwich from McDonald's.

So when the Wall Street Journal drew attention to the McRib Locator this week, a website where people can post where the sandwich is being sold, the site was jammed by Thursday

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Attempts to access the site early Thursday afternoon were unsuccessful, drawing messages like "Service Temporarily Unavailable." When the site did become available later in the afternoon, it depicted more than 200 sightings of the elusive McRib from Oakland, Calif., to Machias, Maine.

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The sandwich is elusive because McDonald's doesn't market it nationwide. Instead, individual restaurants will start selling it for a few weeks. Then it disappears.

All that will change on Nov. 2, Election Day, when McDonald's is slated to make the McRib available in its restaurants nationwide. But fans will have to act quickly. The sandwiches will only be there for about six weeks, according to The Wall Street Journal story.

A McDonald's executive told the newspaper that the chain didn't offer it year around because "people get tired of it."

Not all people. The McRib has developed almost a cult following. Several fan sites exist on Facebook. The McRib Locator, started three years ago, logs hundreds of sightings a week.

Created by McDonald's first executive chef, René Arend, and first test-marketed in the early 1980s, the sandwich is made of chopped pork, mostly pork shoulder, with water, salt, dextrose, and various preservatives. It's topped with a special sauce (water, high fructose corn syrup, tomato paste, distilled vinegar, molasses, natural smoke flavor, and so on), pickle slices, and onions, and comes on a six-inch bun.

It's not everybody's slab of meat. But fans can't get enough.

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On "November 2d the best food known to man comes back," wrote Mark Caswell Sr. on the McRib Facebook site. "I have a tear in my eye.... It's been soooooo long."