Another 'Rick and Morty' fiasco: The great Szechuan sauce letdown
It’s official: The Tampa Bay area has too many Rick and Morty fans.
For the second time in barely two weeks, droves of fans who adore the demented, adults-only Cartoon Network show filled long lines for another special Rick and Morty-themed event.
And just like last time, most left empty-handed.
So, let’s rewind: In April the cartoon made a joke about Szechuan sauce, a limited-edition sauce for Chicken McNuggets offered by McDonald’s in 1998 for the debut of the Disney animated movie Mulan.
Rick and Morty fans demanded that McDonald’s bring back Szechuan sauce and the company acceded to those demands. Sort of.
Participating restaurants offered the special sauce on Saturday. For Rick and Morty fans, the hunt was on — until it wasn’t, because pretty much every McDonald’s in the bay area sold out in less than an hour.
This is reminiscent of the last Rick and Morty-themed fiasco, when more than 1,500 fans showed up in a Tampa neighborhood on Sept. 27 to meet the “Rickmobile,” a truck bearing the title character’s likeness that had been traveling the country selling merchandise.
Tampa police shut down the event because too many fans showed up and ended up drinking and parking where they shouldn’t have. Many left angry and disappointed.
They relived that experience Saturday, taking to social media to vent after waiting in lines more than a hundred people deep in hopes of getting a taste of that limited edition Szechuan sauce. But many McDonald’s restaurants weren’t supplied with enough of the sauce to meet the massive demand for it.
For a more thorough explanation of why Rick and Morty fans are obsessed with a 20-year-old, teriyaki-flavored Chicken McNugget sauce that many fans are too young to even remember, click here.
Essentially, the show’s main character — deranged dimension-traveling grandfather Rick Sanchez — really, really loves this sauce.
And as Tampa learned last month, anything to do with this cartoon seems to turn fans into fanatics.
At the Temple Terrace McDonald’s at 11707 N 56th St., people were waiting in line with lawn chairs because they arrived so early. It was reminiscent of the Happy Meal Teenie Beanie Baby craze of the 1990s.
The restaurant started selling Szechuan sauce around 2 p.m. About 40 minutes later, it was out. By 3 p.m., a sign hung on the window explaining to customers that they were already sold out of the sauce and related posters.
Sheriff's deputies had to be called to a McDonald’s in Wellington after “tons of angry people” found out the store didn’t actually have the sauce, according to the Palm Beach Post.
Twitter user Joey Flash tweeted at McDonald’s saying the sole location carrying the sauce in St. Petersburg, at 300 38th Ave. N, sold out within 10 minutes. But those waiting in line didn’t get the news for another hour.
The company, however, said in advance that the sauces would be limited and given out on a first-come, first-serve basis. Only three restaurants in Tampa and one in St. Petersburg announced they would offer the sauce.
Bob Conigliaro, a spokesman for local franchise owner Caspers Company, sent this statement to the Tampa Bay Times:
“In our restaurants, we had many excited and patient customers who waited for the Szechuan Sauce. We know they have a lot of passion for the sauce, but we were only able to provide a limited quantity of dipping packets. We also offered coupons for a free menu item on us if they were not able to receive a giveaway.”
Some super-fans did get their hands on the sauce. The Tampa Bay McDonald’s Twitter account @McDTampaBay posted photos of a few happy fans in Rick and Morty T-Shirts clutching their sauces and commemorative posters at the McDonald’s on 1520 W Kennedy Blvd. in Tampa.
Contact Sara DiNatale at [email protected] Follow @sara_dinatale.