Over the weekend, police were called to McDonald’s outlets across the USA to calm the furious Rick & Morty fans queuing for Szechuan sauce. Wait, what? Let’s back up – all the way to April Fools’ Day.
SATURDAY, APRIL 1
The Rick & Morty season 3 premiere airs, containing a series of references to an obscure McDonald’s sauce that was fleetingly available in 1998 to promote the Disney film Mulan. Mid-episode, genius scientist Rick gets to taste the sauce again in a memory, and at the episode’s end he tells Morty: “I’m not driven by avenging my dead family… I’m driven by finding that McNugget sauce. That’s my series arc, Morty. If it takes nine seasons, I want my McNugget dipping sauce.”
The sauce is not mentioned for the rest of season 3.
SUNDAY, APRIL 2
McDonald’s tweets the vaguely problematic “McNugga Lubba Dub Dub” – an adaptation of Rick’s catchphrase “Wubba Lubba Dub Dub”. Rick & Morty’s account replies: “This makes me uncomfortable. Especially the ‘McNugga’.”
A petition is started asking McDonald’s for the return of the sauce. It goes on to attract over 35,000 signatures.
.@RickandMorty McNugga Lubba Dub Dub. 👀
— McDonald's (@McDonalds) April 2, 2017
— Rick and Morty (@RickandMorty) April 2, 2017
MONDAY, APRIL 3
McDonald’s corporate chef Mike Haracz tweets: “I’ll see what I can do” to fans asking him to recreate the recipe.
I'll see what I can do
— Chef Mike Haracz 🥓🍕🍪🌮🍔 (@Mike_Haracz) April 3, 2017
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19
An ancient packet of the sauce is sold on Ebay for $15,000 (£11,500) after being discovered in a recently purchased second-hand car. “I hope somebody who wants to eat some 20-year-old gnarly sauce gets this,” the seller says. “I would prefer not to sell it to a collector.”
SUNDAY, JULY 30
The remainder of Rick & Morty season 3 begins to air on Adult Swim. To mark the occasion, McDonald’s produces three 64oz. bottles of Szechuan sauce, gifting one to Rick & Morty co-creator Justin Roiland and the others to fans who retweet McDonald’s on the night.
Holy shit. pic.twitter.com/vNEIfHTmNU
— Justin Roiland (@JustinRoiland) July 30, 2017
Ignoring Rick & Morty‘s notorious no-time-travel rule, chef Mike Haracz makes an eye-rolling statement about how limited the sauce is: “We wish we could have brought more sauce through, but we couldn’t risk keeping a portal like that open… If we left the portal open, we’d have puka shells, bucket hats, and boy bands as far as the eye could see.”
SUNDAY, AUGUST 6
A fan wins a bottle by retweeting McDonald’s, and puts it on sale on Ebay. EDM DJ Deadmau5 bids for it, writing: “Am I really in the middle of a bidding war over a 64oz bottle of Szechuan Sauce? Yes. I am.”
am i really in the middle of a bidding war over a 64oz bottle of Szechuan Sauce? yes. i am.
— Goat lord (@deadmau5) August 6, 2017
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 16
Deadmau5 loses track of the bid while getting married. The bidding finishes at $15,350 (£12,000), but the two top bidders fail to cough up, leading the seller to approach Deadmau5. The DJ buys the sauce for an unknown sum, tweeting: “I will be enjoying the hell out of this sauce when we get back from our honeymoon.”
I will be enjoying the hell out of this sauce when we get back from our honeymoon 😉
— Goat lord (@deadmau5) August 15, 2017
MONDAY, OCTOBER 2
McDonald’s announces plans to resurrect the sauce for one day (Saturday, October 7) at select US stores. A down-with-the-kids statement reads: “After nearly 20 years (and perhaps a bit of time travel) we’re even doing the impossible – we’re giving away a one-time only, limited-edition run of Szechuan Sauce in select restaurants.” Again: there is absolutely no time-travel in Rick & Morty.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 7
Mass demand and shortages of the sauce lead to such anger that police are called to US outlets of McDonald’s. Fans chant “We want sauce!” and protest with hand-made #GiveUsTheSauce signs. McDonald’s Twitter feed is full of apologies to fans who travelled miles and waited hours, only to be disappointed.
— Ian J Sikes (@ianjsikes) October 7, 2017
We’re so sorry to hear this. We could only make small batches of Szechuan Sauce, but DM us and we’ll try to find a way to make it up to you.
— McDonald's (@McDonalds) October 7, 2017
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 8
Rick & Morty creator Justin Roiland distances himself from the promotion, writing: “We had nothing to do with this McDonald’s stuff. Not happy with how this was handled. Please be cool to the employees, it’s not their fault.”
FYI: We had nothing to do with this McDonald's stuff. Not happy w/how this was handled. Please be cool to the employees it's not their fault
— Justin Roiland (@JustinRoiland) October 8, 2017
MONDAY, OCTOBER 9
McDonald’s announces plans to bring back the sauce on wide release, continuing to use what they might call ‘the lingo’: “We’ve worked to open any portal necessary, and it worked. Szechuan Sauce is coming back again this winter. And instead of being one-day-only we’re bringing more – a lot more – so that any fan who’s willing to do whatever it takes for Szechuan sauce will only have to ask for it at a nearby McDonald’s. You’re some of the best fans in this – or any – dimension.”.
— McDonald's (@McDonalds) October 8, 2017
And now we play the waiting game…