JUST IN: McDonald’s admits it screwed up & vows to ‘make amends’ this time

Mighty McDonald’s acknowledged this morning that it botched last fall’s release of a cult favorite menu item and vowed to get it right this time — starting this Monday, Feb. 26.

“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.”

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“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.”

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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?

Well, last year, “Rick and Morty,” a popular Adult Swim TV show, made a joke on April Fools Day about McDonald’s bringing back Szechuan sauce, and McDonald’s customers went apoplectic on social media. That prompted the fast-food giant to play along and release a tiny quantity of the sauce in October.

RELATED: Only ONE Dayton-area McDonald’s will have the ‘Rick & Morty’-inspired Szechuan sauce for one day only (October 2017)

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.

RELATED: McDonald’s customers get saucy over failed ‘Rick and Morty’ promotion

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.

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McDonald’s officials said they’ve “worked every day since October to bring back much, much, more of the sauce our fans have been craving. And we’re excited to announce that starting Monday, Feb. 26, 20 million packets of Szechuan Sauce will be available across all U.S. McDonald’s restaurants with a qualifying purchase, while supplies last (which this time around, we hope is a while).”

The sauce will be available starting at lunchtime on Monday. To obtain it, a customer must buy something else from the menu — but, “It pairs perfectly with the Buttermilk Crispy (chicken) Tenders,” a spokesman for Ohio McDonald’s restaurants suggested helpfully.

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