Obsession is in. Thanks to the hyper-connectivity and ever-flowing river of useless information that makes up the world wide web, anything from makeup releases, trendy restaurant pop-ups, t-shirt drops and, yes, weed, have caused blocks-long lines and rowdy crowds previously only associated with Beatlemania and the Spice Girls. The latest act of widespread consumer absurdity comes from the country’s most ubiquitous fast food restaurant and their attempt to court fans of the cult cartoon phenomenon “Rick and Morty” - and boy did the Double Arches screw it up.
The saga started with the season 3 premiere of the raunchy Adult Swim sci-fi cartoon, when time traveling protagonist Rick reveals his life’s goal to find McDonald’s szechuan McNugget sauce, a real-life product released in limited quantity as part of a synergistic advertising campaign with the 1998 Disney movie Mulan. Since the sauce was mentioned on the show, the cartoon’s rabid fans have been pining for everything szechuan, even signing a petition begging Ronald and his pals to bring the sauce back.
And this past weekend, in attempt to appease the vocal fans and cash in some cool chips, the Double Arches brought back the sauce, advertising a one-day only release at select locations.
What occurred at McDonald’s locations on Saturday, though, did not resemble a hip Brooklyn line-up for a new bacon flavored donut or a limited Supreme release. Instead, it turned into what can only be described as a physical interpretation of a 4Chan chatroom, with belligerent fans screaming at the minimum wage employees, jumping onto counters and generally making fools of themselves - all in the name of fast food dipping sauce.
In one instance, the crowds got so intense that a man was stabbed over the sauce. At McDonald’s locations around the country, police showed up to disperse the unruly animation fans.
It didn’t help that McDonald’s was incredibly unprepared for the irrational vigor of “Rick and Morty” fans, with participating locations each sent only a handful of sauce packets, causing even more absurd reactions from fans who weren’t able to cop the exclusive condiment.
Like the first in line to get a new iPhone or box logo t-shirt, as soon as the limited quantity disappeared, the reselling market exploded, with one entrepreneurial fan selling pre-dipped McNuggets for $10 a pop to folks in line who weren’t as lucky.
On Ebay, packets of the sauce popped up immediately, with bids still flying in and some sellers getting as much as $300 for a single serving.
Of course, not everyone was happy with the spacey sauce, with “Rick and Morty” creator Justin Roiland taking to Twitter to make it clear that the show was in no way associated with the McDonald’s release, pleading with the show’s fans to be respectful to their local Mickey D’s employees.
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
Understandably, McDonald’s employees do not make enough money to be expected to deal Internet trolls online or IRL, and were less than pleased their typical Saturday suddenly turning into the fast food equivalent of a gamergate LARPing adventure. (Hint: if you’re part of a large group of men screaming at minimum wage employees over anything, never mind an ounce of dipping sauce, you’re doing something wrong).
if one more person calls the mcdonalds i work at and asks for the fucking szechuan sauce from rick and morty we disconnecting the phone— spoopy denise (@denisemoji) October 6, 2017
Because of the huge turnout and lack of preparedness, McDonald’s has already announced that they will be bringing the szechuan sauce back again, but this time in larger quantities, and for a more extended period.
If you’re one of the “Rick and Morty” fans chomping at the bit for your second chance at the sauce, please, be kind to the people serving you - or better yet, smoke a bowl, take a deep breath and head to Target, where a 12-ounce bottle of what we can only assume is basically the exact same sauce, is available for $4.49, with no line-up or screaming necessary.