Szechuan Sauce from Rick and Morty
Rick: 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!
– The Rickshank Redemption (Rick and Morty)
Cartoon Network | Season 3 - Episode 1
On April Fool’s Day, 2017, Adult Swim surprised Rick and Morty fans by looping the season three premiere episode, “The Rickshank Redemption”, for an entire day. The episode featured several long rants about Rick’s love for Szechuan sauce. That sauce was released by McDonald’s as a promotion for Disney’s 1998 film, “Mulan”. The reference was obscure enough, and Rick’s speech was passionate enough, for thousands of viewers to also become obsessed. And it served as something of a rallying cry for fans of the show.
In response to the sustained, irreverent cries from fans, McDonald’s announced they would bring the sauce back – for one day only – at select locations. At this point the joke had taken on a life of its own. McDonald’s had severely underestimated how crazy people had become to get a taste of the sauce. And how angry they would get when supplies were revealed to be much more limited than expected.
The new Szechuan sauce release was set for October 7, 2017, which coincided (probably not by accident) with the 2017 New York Comic Con. I was attending NYCC 2017. So I figured I could leave the convention to stake out a nearby McDonald’s, grab a few packs of the sauce, and head back to the show.
I should have known better, of course. The store I walked to had hundreds of people waiting in a line that snaked out the door. Bewildered employees were handing out wristbands. An angry manager was trying to get people to leave by telling them that there wouldn’t be enough sauce for everyone. And, after about an hour of waiting, I decided that I might have better luck trying another McDonald’s. The results were unsurprising:
- Would-be customers stormed out of parking lots, telling apocryphal stories of employees giving the sauce away hours ahead of schedule.
- Security guards denied people entrance to stores.
- Disheveled-looking men and women dug in and threatened to wait in line all day if it took that long.
- Everyone was furious.
I ended up at a store whose manager gave everyone in line a coupon for free chicken strips at a later date (and a sticker!). Stories soon began to surface of people traveling hours to find that their McDonald’s only received 20 sauce packets. Those who were able to find a packet were selling theirs for thousands of dollars. Rumors swirled about someone trading a car for a single packet. So I bought some packets on eBay instead. I waited until prices came down far enough for me to not feel too guilty about it.
I eat at McDonald’s about once every two years. In college, I worked at a fast food restaurant, and it changed my outlook and appetite for that type of food. So as I crept into my local McDonald’s, ordered a box of McNuggets and fries, and sat down to try out the elusive Mulan Szechuan sauce.
Let’s take a look at all of the ingredients, handily written right on the top of the packet! Taste that xantham gum!
The sauce packets were pretty big, relatively speaking. Even though I dipped liberally, I only needed two of them for 10 McNuggets and the French fries.
After over a year since watching “The Rickshaw Redemption”, I finally had a chance to try McDonald’s Szechuan sauce. And I found it to be…okay. The sauce has a slightly tangy teriyaki flavor to it. It’s fairly mild with just a hint of spiciness to it. And it seemed like there might be a little bit of ketchup or other tomato-like flavor underneath. And, naturally, it tasted pretty salty.
Of course, there was never any chance that the sauce would live up to the hype. either from the cartoon or from the frothy, eye-bulging fanaticism that erupted around what came after. But it is something that I’d try again. Which is why I saved a few packets of sauce for the future. I’ll either put in another McNugget order or exchange them with anyone who feels like trading their car. Let’s give it a solid 7/10.
Now On Sale
Rick and Morty Presents: The Vindicators #1
Creators: J. Torres, CJ Cannon, Nick Filardi, Crank!
Publisher: Oni Press
Just as McDonald’s failed to anticipate how popular their promotion would be, early issues of the official Rick and Morty comic book from Oni Press exceeded expectations. They sold out everywhere and are now difficult to find for a reasonable price. It’s befuddling that Rick and Morty #1 is probably the most valuable comic book printed in the last 10 years that I own. Though, let’s be honest, placing value on comic books is kind of weird.
As such, Oni stepped up its production and produced a number of spin-off titles. This includes the recent Rick and Morty Presents: The Vindicators. This one-shot title is part of a quarterly schedule that’ll also include features the likes of Sleepy Gary and Pickle Rick.
I usually keep my expectations low with licensed comic books. They must keep the excitement of a property alive without making any sort of meaningful changes to the characters or plot lines. The Vindicators comic brings back many familiar characters from the show. But it suffers from that lack of ability to tell stories that move characters forward. And yet, I’ll almost certainly buy the next one when it comes out. I guess that’s the paradox of being a collector!
Oh, and here’s a picture of me and Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon, in which we look like we’re about to kiss.