McRib returns but it’s more elusive than ever

McDonald’s most elusive sandwich is getting even more harder to find.

The fast food chain announced that the McRib will be returning to restaurants this fall, however, the beloved sandwich will only be coming back to 55 percent of franchises, CNBC reports.  Last year, that number was 75 percent.

A spokeswoman for the company says about 8,000 of the nation's 14,350 McDonald's restaurants will put the McRib back on the menu.

The real meat patty shaped with fake ribs has held almost mystical meal status for McDonald’s over the years.  The fast food giant lets their franchisees decide whether they'll serve the seasonal sandwich, but more owners have decided to forgo the limited-time item, amid flagging sales.

Despite being a cult favorite, the McRib had become the target of skeptics over the past years who questioned what was in the dish.

Last year, "Mythbusters" host Grant Imahara revealed how the McRib is really made. In the video, part of a marketing campaign by McDonald’s to debunk common myths about its menu items, the McRib is made with boneless pork shoulder -- no bones, no gristle, all meat.

It’s hard to tell if enthusiasm is waning for the McRib or if it is evolving into a regional favorite.  Already the boneless barbecue sandwich has returned to some locations, including northeast Pennsylvania and greater Pittsburgh, where they’re tweeting its return.

in past months, McDonald’s has been rolling out limited-time offerings with regional flavors, including an Old Bay Filet-O-Fish in the mid-Atlantic region, and “Spirit of Kentucky” Quarter Pounder in Kentucky.

This is all part of CEO Steve Easterbrook's strategy to put more power and menu-making decisions in the hands of regional operators.

Let's see if it works.