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  • Writer's pictureDavid Baker

McDonald’s brings back Rick & Morty cult favorite sauce

Everyone knows that chicken nuggets just aren’t the same without a dipping sauce. And no one knows that better than McDonald’s.

Recently, the fast-food chain announced Monday that it is bringing back its wildly popular Szechuan Sauce for a limited time starting March 31 and only “while supplies last.” Described as a savory and slightly sweet taste profile with hints of soy, garlic, ginger and mild vinegar, many fans of Chicken McNuggets swear by it while others swear about it (and not in a kindly manner).

Originally, the sauce debuted in 1998 as part of a McDonald's promotion for the Disney animated film Mulan. But it wasn’t until 2017, after a nearly 20-year hiatus, that interest in Szechuan Sauce got a big boost when it was mentioned on an episode of the animated series “Rick and Morty” and it returned for one day later that same year. Supplies ran out almost instantly and there are numerous YouTube videos depicting the pandemonium that ensued. Yes, there was pandemonium.

Not unlike the edgy, adult-oriented animated series on Cartoon Network, the sauce gained a cultlike status and since then has only returned three other times in the past 24 years. It also returned in 2018 and packages of the old sauce can be found for sale on eBay with some purportedly selling for as much as $950 (even though the packaging carries a warning that it should not be consumed after the expiration date).

McDonald’s made the announcement and issued a statement saying that “we’re excited for fans to get another taste of the elusive favorite for just a few days.”

This time around the sauce was only available on the McDonald’s app for free when selected as a dipping sauce option for Chicken McNuggets with a per-purchase limitation of five packets. Not coincidentally, the sauce comes in five different golden foil designs that spell out the word “SZECHUAN.”

WHY IT MATTERS. Does it? McDonalds excels at self-promotion (remember “exclusive” Beanie Babies and other Happy Meal toys?) and this is no different. If sales are flagging and new ideas are lacking, why not trot out something familiar?

On a personal level, my kids are young enough to have enjoyed their fair share of Chicken McNuggets, as have I, but too old (and mature?) to have embraced the fanaticism created by Rick & Morty. I know that I enjoy watching Rick & Morty and I have eaten quite a few Chicken McNuggets myself. Still, I doubt that Chicken McNuggets and Szechuan Sauce will make it on to my weekly menu any time soon.

If you’d prefer to try to make your own version of McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce, check out the similar The Food Hacker recipe at

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