- By Mark Fisher Staff Writer
The Szechuan dipping sauce so popular that its scarcity prompted a law-enforcement response at some McDonald’s locations nationwide last fall makes its return today, Monday Feb. 26.
This time, the roll-out will be different, McDonald’s officials promise. This time, 20 million packets of Szechuan Sauce will be available across all U.S. McDonald’s restaurants, starting at lunchtime today, to those who make what McDonald’s describes as a “qualifying purchase.” McDonald’s recommends (but does not require) that the qualifying purchase be its Buttermilk Crispy (chicken) Tenders, which just happen to dip perfectly into the Szechuan sauce packets.
The fast-food chain acknowledged last week that it botched the October 2017 release of a cult favorite menu item and vowed to get it right this time.
“Last October, we truly meant well,” McDonald’s said in a release this morning, “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.”
“Our super-limited batch, though well-intentioned, clearly wasn’t near enough to meet that demand. We disappointed fans and we are sorry. 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.”
What’s the big deal about this Szechuan sauce, which McDonald’s first served during a cross-promotion of the Disney film “Mulan” in 1998?
“Rick and Morty,” the popular Adult Swim TV show, made a joke lastApril Fools Day 2017 about McDonald’s bringing back Szechuan sauce, and McDonald’s customers enthusiastically spread the rumor on social media. That prompted the fast-food giant to play along and release a tiny quantity of the sauce in October.
It didn’t go well. In Wellington, Florida, for example, fans lined up hours in advance at three locations that were advertised as having the sauce, only to find none. Some fans expressed their displeasure rather vociferously. Sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene.
In the Dayton area, last October’s botched release saw the Szechuan sauce made available at only one local McDonald’s restaurant — across from Wright State University. Limited-edition posters that were connected to the release were available at six more Miami Valley locations, but the WSU restaurant was the only one to receive any sauce. Needless to say, it didn’t last long.
This time will be different, McDonald’s says.
“We have hundreds of packets (of the sauce) per restaurant to satisfy that sauce craving, so we encourage customers to get ‘em while we’ve got ‘em, whether they come into the restaurant, use Mobile Order & Pay, or order through McDelivery on Uber Eats where it’s available,” Debbie Wright, a franchise owner for Dayton-area McDonald’s, said in a release.