Why 36,000 Rick and Morty fans are petitioning for the return of an obscure 1990s McDonalds sauce

"Nine more seasons until I get that dipping Szechuan sauce – for 97 more years. I want that McNugget sauce, Morty!”

In the summer of 1998, McDonalds launched a short-lived promotional Szechuan sauce to coincide with the release of the Disney film Mulan. And almost 19 years later, on April 1, 2017, the sci-fi show Rick and Morty lobbied McDonalds for the long-dead promo sauce’s return, by filling its season 3 premiere with meta references to it. Why this is happening isn’t really clear, but presumably one of the show’s co-creators, Dan Harmon or Justin Roiland, bloody loved that sauce, and wants its return more than anything in the world. Or (more likely) it’s one of the show’s typically weird and elaborate jokes.

Here’s how they made their case. Like something out of The Matrix or Inception, part of the episode was set inside a simulation of Rick’s brain, where he was able to acquire a portion of the now-cancelled sauce and prove to the Galactic Federation agent that the sauce was as delicious as he said it was.

Now, it seems like their efforts have paid off – after Roiland revealed that McDonalds have agreed to send him a jug of the discontinued sauce.

As he appeared at a San Diego Comic Con panel, Roiland explained that the fast food giant would be delivering him a jug of the sauce next week – and he’s now planning to film himself tasting it alongside co-creator Dan Harmon.

He’s also refusing to rule out the possibility that the taste might be a little underwhelming – and vowed to keep any ‘disappointing reactions’ in the video.

The first episode of series 3 also included a tragic (and presumably false) origin story, suggesting how Rick might have turned from a kindly scientist to a galaxy-roving nihilist after the tragic death of his wife and daughter. Despite all the tragedy, the agent was far more focused on the incomparable deliciousness of the sauce:

Oh, by the way, here’s a cheesy 1998 advert for the sauce:

The episode soon turns to more pressing matters – Rick’s escape from prison – but the subject of the sauce makes a return at the end of the episode, when Rick makes an epic rant to Morty about it once more. Just in case the below YouTube clip of it gets taken down, we’ve transcribed it all:

“I’ll go out and find some more of that Mulan Szechuan Teriyaki dipping sauce, Morty, because that’s what this is all about Morty – that’s my one-armed man! I’m not driven by avenging my dead family, Morty, that was fake, I’m driven by finding that McNugget sauce. I want that Mulan McNugget sauce, Morty, that’s my series arc, Morty, if it takes nine seasons, I want my McNugget dipping sauce Szechuan sauce, Morty, that’s what’s going to take us all the way to the end, Morty, nine more seasons Morty, nine more seasons until I get that dipping Szechuan sauce, for 97 more years, I want that McNugget sauce, Morty.”

There you have just part of the story – because since the first episode of Rick and Morty season 3 aired on April 1, the Szechuan sauce phenomenon has taken on a life of its own, possibly thanks to this tweet from the show’s account:

They then asked McDonald’s if they wanted to get in on the joke, to which the chain responded awkardly with an adaptation of Rick’s catchphrase, “Wubba Lubba Dub Dub.”

Rick and Morty’s Twitter soon mocked McDonald’s for their response.

Co-creator and Rick & Morty voice actor Justin Roiland seemed incredulous:

And now fans have turned it into A Thing on Twitter:

The hints have actually chimed with viewers enough that 36,000 people have signed a petition demanding the sauce’s publicly return, and it’s even got to the point where fans are making campaign T-shirts for the sauce’s return.

Your move, Ronald…