After nearly a year of waiting, McDonald's Szechuan sauce has finally returned--this time, for real. Yes! The saga of this sauce, sparked by the animated series Rick & Morty in 2017, has been a strange one indeed, so if you're confused, here is a timeline of everything that's lead to this day. It will be updated as new developments occur, so if you really care about Szechuan Sauce, keep checking back for the latest Szechuan Sauce-related news and/or history.
June 19, 1998
Disney released the animated classic Mulan. McDonald's releases a limited edition "Szechuan Teriyaki Dipping Sauce," aka Szechuan sauce, which accompanied Happy Meal Chicken McNuggets and one of eight different possible Mulan toys. Once the promotion is over, McDonald's ceases to offer the sauce, and it remains generally outside of popular media discussion for nearly a decade.
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April 1, 2017
On the season three premiere of Cartoon Network's acclaimed animated sci-fi comedy Rick & Morty, misanthropic genius Rick travels into his memory of 1998, in which he stops by a McDonald’s drive-thru to pick up a 10-piece Chicken McNuggets and “a bunch of the Szechuan Sauce, like as much as you’re allowed to give me." At the end of the episode, Rick claims that his entire character arc is driven by the sauce.
April 2, 2017
The official Rick & Morty Twitter account asks McDonald's if they want to get into this, prompting the chain to respond with an adapted version of Rick's catchphrase. A change.org petition asking McDonald's to bring back the sauce begins (ultimately getting 38,742 signatures).
April 3, 2017
McDonald's "Manager of Culinary Innovation" Mike Haracz says he'll see what he can do.
April 19, 2017
In the first sign that things could be getting a bit out of hand, a 19-year old packet of Szechuan Sauce found by a man cleaning out his car sells for $14,700 on eBay.
July 30, 2017
McDonald's sends Rick & Morty co-creator Justin Roiland a 64-ounce bottle of Szechuan sauce coinciding with the premiere of the rest of season three, complete with a note about how it's the result of interdimensional travel. Two others are given away to fans who retweeted McDonald's. This is presumably the first new Szechuan sauce to be created since 1998, but it won't be the last.
August 16, 2017
After one of the McDonald's retweet winners puts their bottle up for sale on eBay, it sells for $15,350. The winner doesn't pay, but EDM DJ Deadmau5, who lost the auction, buys it for an undisclosed amount to "enjoy the hell out of" after his honeymoon.
October 1, 2017
This is the big turning point. Granting fans' wishes, McDonald's announces that it will bring Szechuan Sauce back for just one day: October 7. Unlike in the original run, which accompanied the classic Chicken McNuggets, the new Szechuan Sauce would be paired with the newer Buttermilk Crispy Tenders. The chain would also be offering limited-edition posters dedicated to each of its sauces.
October 7, 2017
The big day arrives. Unfortunately, stores are not stocked with enough Szechuan to meet the demand. Much more unfortunately, many of the demandees use it as an excuse to harass McDonald's employees, chanting "we want sauce," and picketing with "#GiveUsTheSauce" signs in what has to be the worst reason to protest a McDonald's possible.
October 8, 2017
Roiland tweets his disappointment, asking fans to "please be cool to the employees." McDonald's issues an apology, which both thanks and praises the fans, and says that Szechuan Sauce will return at an unspecified time in the winter in larger amounts.
Feb 20, 2018
After months of relative silence, McDonald's tweets that it will announce "when, where, and how much Szechuan Sauce will be returning," as well as a new website called wewantthesauce.com. It also announces that it will do so via a new, three-part podcast series called "The Sauce," which seems to be going for a "Serial," vibe, if "Serial" was about investigating how the McDonald's Szechuan Sauce promotion caused such a mess.
Feb 22, 2018
McDonald's reveals Szechuan Sauce distribution plan 3.0: 20 million packets will be made available across every McDonald's in the US, beginning Monday, February 26. While that's quite a few packets, the promotion will only continue while supplies last.
Feb 26, 2018
The big day, take two. McDonald's does, indeed, start serving Szechuan sauce at its restaurants as planned. Some restaurants, however, are reportedly unaware of the promotion, causing a bit of confusion. But at least so far, there's nothing indicating anything like a disaster of the first attempt.
Further updates as they occur!