There is perhaps a possible world where McDonald’s rereleased its Szechuan McNugget dipping sauce from the 1990s promotion of the movie “Mulan” and everything went fine. In this world, there was enough for everyone, lines at the fast food restaurant did not stretch for hours, no consumers were stabbed and there was not a secondary market of $280 condiment packets.
Yes, in another dimension, McDonald’s dipping sauce retail promotion went just great.
But we don’t live in that possible world.
No, we live in the version of reality where Donald Trump is President, Bob Dylan is a Nobel Laureate and any attempt to reintroduce Szechuan sauce into the wild consumer world was pretty much a mess from the get-go.
The fast food chain’s stunt aimed to bring back Mulan’s “Szechuan” sauce for a day, after the fanbase for the sci-fi comedy show “Rick and Morty” became obsessed after the condiment was referenced in the show’s season premier. The fans had spoken; they wanted Szechuan sauce and McDonald’s tried to oblige.
Unfortunately, they underestimated just how obsessive “Rick and Morty” fans are and thus just how much sauce they were going to need. In fairness, McDonald’s did warn the world that when the condiment made its return, there were only going to be very limited quantities at a handful of locations.
And, as the time wore on and restaurants quickly ran out of their supply, the fans turned ugly. Angry crowd mobs chanted, “We want sauce”; fight fights broke out and police were called in many places just to prevent a riot. At least one consumer claimed to have driven from Canada — another claimed to have been stabbed. Both reported being disappointed in the outcome of the day.
And heading off to eBay was not the obvious solution it might usually have been, at least not for anyone without a bankroll so large their expenditures no longer have to make any sense. An offer for three sealed packs of the sauce sold for $848.88 ($282.96 each), while a single packet was bidding for $995. Most retail listings for the condiment were above $100.
McDonald’s eventually addressed the horde of irate customers on Twitter when they realized that a mob of angry sci-fi fans hopped up on internet rage was not good for business.
The company acknowledged its “super-limited batch” was not enough to meet demand and promised to “make this right.” McDonald’s said the Szechuan sauce will come back to its restaurants in the winter.
Hopefully they will stock up a lot more this time.