Like a swarm of locusts, they only resurface after lying dormant from the face of the earth for a succession of several long years.

Like a swarm of locusts, they only resurface after lying dormant from the face of the earth for a succession of several long years.

Maybe this is a tactic designed to attract a fresh batch of curious samplers who don't remember or aren't old enough to know of previous invasions. In any event, they are the stuff of myth and legend, and have even crept into our popular culture in the form of a Simpsons episode.

In that "let this be a warning" cartoon, victims of the allure of this enigmatic snack - such as Homer - are drawn into a Deadhead-like cult of transfixed seekers who are willing to abandon their friends, homes and families in search of more, more, just a little more.

Having never experienced one, I decided that in this rare time of limited availability I'd finally take the plunge and find out what all the fuss was. And yet when I finally came face to face with it, I was paralyzed with a fear of the unknown. What exactly was it? To me, it was a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a soft roll with onions and pickles.

What I tried: McDonald's McRib ($2)

'Cue and A: Well, I've eaten one now and I still don't know what the hell it was. But I'll try to describe it.

On a soft little hoagie-style roll - pretty good, I suppose, by McDonald's standards - sat a bizarre springy and flabby patty with hilarious banding on one side meant to mimic the segmenting of an actual rack of ribs.

This meat-like object had some definite porky-ish qualities to it and could fairly be compared to a greasy, sausagey entity. It had been heavily slathered in a surfeit of faux smoky and syrupy barbecue sauce.

The best parts of the sandwich? The pickle and onion add-ons.

Like a wart or a tumor: To say the McRib grows on you means that after a few bites you might think to yourself, "Hey, this McRib thingy ain't quite as abhorrent as I thought it might be." After a few more nibbles, you might even want to continue chomping on it, if only to try to figure out exactly what it is you're eating.

Would I eat it again?: No. And considering that the Pit Boss cart - with real and really good barbecue - is only a couple of blocks up the street from the Mickey D's where I got the McRib just exaggerates this McSandwich's confounding McOddness.

Spot a new menu item you'd like Taste Test to try? E-mail gbenton@columbusalive.com