Many hangry customers couldn’t find the limited edition McNuggets sauce when it returned for one day only last fall.
McDonald’s has learned from its Szechuan Sauce mistakes.
The Golden Arches tried letting customers have it their way last October by bringing back its fan-favorite 1998 “Mulan” limited edition McNuggets dipping sauce. A spring episode of “Rick and Morty” had featured the title characters traveling back in time to get their hands on some of the sweet and sour plum sauce, which led to fans clamoring for the condiment to come back for real.
.@RickandMorty McNugga Lubba Dub Dub. 👀
— McDonald's (@McDonalds) April 2, 2017
But when the burger train tried to oblige with a one-day-only release in select stores, the brief window and limited supply were a recipe for disaster. The restaurants handing Szechuan Sauce out were woefully understocked, and police were called to locations where mobs of hangry customers jumped onto order counters and led chants of “Szechuan Sauce” and “We want sauce!”
Now McDonald’s is trying to make it right with a re-release on Monday, when 20 million packets of Szechuan Sauce will be available across all US McDonald’s restaurants with a qualifying purchase, while supplies last. Each store has received hundreds of packets, compared to the 20 or so they got last time, according to Debbie Wright, the McDonald’s franchise holder for the Dayton, Ohio, area, in a release. A cup will be available with any qualifying purchase (namely, a 10-pack of McNuggets.)
“Last October, we truly meant well when we brought back a super-limited batch of Szechuan Sauce, but it quickly became apparent we did not make enough to meet the expectations of our fans. We did not anticipate the overnight crowds, the cross-state travel and the amazing curiosity, passion and energy fans showed,” the brand wrote on WeWantTheSauce.com, a website it’s created to address the issue and promote its new-old product.
We heard you and have been working tirelessly to bring back The Sauce. On 2/22, we announce when/where Szechuan Sauce will return, but also answer the burning question: “What happened to The Sauce?!” To find out, visit https://t.co/Gcrq5kM71E or download the podcast series. pic.twitter.com/ezHbAqL82i
— McDonald's (@McDonalds) February 20, 2018
“Our super-limited batch, though well-intentioned, clearly wasn’t near enough to meet that demand. We disappointed fans and we are sorry,” it continued. “To fully make amends, we felt it was important to not only bring back much more sauce this time, but to also admit our mistakes, answer questions and give fans access to the story behind the story.”
That’s a much better play than the fan that reportedly bagged the discontinued McNuggets dipping sauce for $14,700 on eBay last April. A U.K. poster found a 20-year-old packet of the sweet and sour sauce in a used car, and the enterprising seller put it up on eBay.
“I just bought a really old car, while cleaning it I found a packet of this sauce,” read the auction author’s description. “After watching the recent episode of Rick and Morty I went online to see if it was worth anything. Turns out it was. Also this comes with a packet of wasabi as well.”
And other dated Szechuan sauce packets have sprung up for auction on the resale site, as well.
Those lucky enough to score the rare treat last fall also made out like bandits.
One guy who lucked out into getting some Szechuan sauce started charging people $10 apiece for one of his McNuggets dipped in the coveted condiment. And a saucy woman traded her cup for a guy’s Volkswagen.
Or, you can easily make it yourself at home. The original packets feature dried chili peppers, grape vinegar, onion and garlic powder, as well as a lot of preservatives and artificial colors such as xantham gum and caramel coloring. And the insanity around the dipping cup has inspired chefs to try recreating the processed sauce with homemade recipes. Andrew Rea demos three versions on his YouTube show Binging with Babish, including a version with dried chiles and Szechuan peppercorns, or another with plum sake, vinegar, and Sriracha.
And cooking instructor Ye Ye, who specializes in Chinese food, also shared her recipe with the New York Post, Moneyish’s sister publication.
It’s “easy when you have the right ingredients,” she said. So beat the crowds and get cooking.
This article was first published on April 21, 2017, and has been updated with news that McDonald’s is bringing back the Szechuan sauce.
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