It's been awhile since Brinker International's (NYSE:EAT) Chili's popularized the jingle about wanting baby back ribs. Before you knew it, boy bands and Austin Powers villains were playing along. Well, casual dining rival Applebee's (NASDAQ:APPB) is singing a different tune today. Can it take its ribs back, baby?

The chain will be taking a $2.3 million hit during the second quarter to cover -- and I'm not making this up -- an excess in its inventory of riblets. While this may be a problem dating all the way back to the days of Adam and Eve, it's not every day you see a company docking its financials after counting its ribs.

Still, it's not the first time that a single entree has roughed up a company's financials. Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) got clawed last year after its all-you-can-eat crab promotion backfired with hungrier than expected Red Lobster patrons. The problems are entirely different, though, as Darden found itself going through more of its stock than it had first expected, while Applebee's is writing off extra riblets that didn't quite make the quality cut.

After the hit, which amounts to $0.02 a share, the company is projecting to earn between $0.33 and $0.34 per share. With Wall Street pegged at a $0.35 showing before the charge, that finds Applebee's landing on the high end of analyst expectations.

That's happening because folks are flocking to casual dining chains like Applebee's in record numbers, and the restaurant operators are being given some flexibility to inch menu prices higher to offset rising food costs. June comps were up by 6.8%, as the company closed out its 24th consecutive quarter of growing same unit sales.

Yes, the economy has had its mood swings over the past six years, but Applebee's -- and other casual dining chains like Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ:CAKE) -- have had no problem growing their sales at the restaurant level.

Even with the throwaway riblets, Applebee's is looking to earn roughly $1.35 a share this year. Growing its chain to more than 1,600 company-owned and franchised units, the company has no problem with eating its own cooking. The company has been ambitiously buying back its own shares, which answers the original question. No, it can't take its baby backs back, but it can buy back its babies.

Have you been to Applebee's lately? Do baby back ribs work well under the Atkins-approved diet guidelines, or did you find yourself ordering off the company's new Weight Watchers menu? All this and more in the Low Carb Way of Life discussion board. Only on

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz needs to drive 7.2 miles to get to his nearest Applebee's, but he'll do it gladly if he's hungry enough. He owns shares in Cheesecake Factory but not any of the other companies mentioned in this story.