Sales at McDonald's restaurants in the United States jumped 4.9% in November, fueled by a huge national appetite for the company's oddly iconic McRib sandwich, which is made with a pressed-pork patty that contains no rib meat.
The sandwich comes and goes from McDonald's menus, depending on the interest of local franchise holders and the giant chain's corporate marketing team.
In November, the sandwich came back as a national offering for the first time in 16 years — and consumers ate it up. The national McRib promotion ended last week, although the sandwich is still available at some stores. McDonald's Chief Executive Jim Skinner said the McRib promotion and demand for high-end McCafe coffees in the U.S. and fancy wrap sandwiches in Europe would make the fast-food giant customers' "favorite place to eat."
Sales at McDonald's have been rising for months, in part because the company's food is relatively affordable in difficult economic times. But the chain's growth comes at a time when there is also increasing concern that fast food may be contributing to the nation's obesity problem.
Activists already have had some success instituting so-called Happy Meal bans, which forbid fast-food restaurants in San Francisco and Santa Clara Counties from handing out toys with children's meals that have too many calories or too much salt and fat. In Los Angeles, the City Council is considering banning new fast-food restaurants from some locations.
The chain's European sales were also up 4.9%, thanks in part to sales of its McWrap sandwiches in Germany and other markets. Sales were not as robust in Asia, Africa and Australia, but they did rise — about 2.4%, the company said.