During the closing moments of the Season 3 premiere of Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty, Rick Sanchez went on a hilarious and totally crazy rant about a promotional sauce that you could get with an order of McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets. It was the limited Szechuan Sauce that was released to promote Disney’s animated film, Mulan. It was a brilliant one-off joke because of how random Rick’s obsession was and how most people probably totally forgot that the sauce even existed. The rant resonated deeply with fans because it was a incredibly epic rant… about sauce.
Ever since that episode of Rick and Morty, there was a immediate clamor for McDonad’s to bring back their Szechuan Sauce. Fans wanted to know what made those little condiment packets so tantalizing that the smartest man in all of the multiverse would totally go bonkers for it and searching for it is, in his own words, his series arc. The world was abuzz with Szechaun Sauce. But they didn’t just want any Szechuan Sauce they could get in any supermarket nor did they want the ones you could make themselves via recipies you can find on the Internet. No, they wanted the one you could only get from McDonald’s in 1998 to coincide with the Disney release of Mulan. It was very specific!
McDonad’s, much like any major corporation, saw all the clamor and decided to capitalize on it. They stoked the fires by sending Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon, the creators of Rick and Morty, a huge jug of Szechuan Sauce. McDonald’s also send bottles to other lucky fans as well. Fans knew that it was only a matter of time that McDonald’s would go full force and bring back the sauce for the public to consume. And a couple of weeks ago, they did!
What a mess that turned out to be!
On what was supposed to be a joyous day, things soured almost immediately as hundreds of fans who wanted the sweet (is Szechuan Sauce sweet?) and tangy (is Szechuan Sauce tangy?) condiment were left out in the cold. Most locations almost immediately ran out of the condiment as the demand was too high. This led to some fans becoming very upset and doing some crazy things, like jumping on top of the counter and then ranting and acting like total idiots. That’s actually a mild disturbance when you consider that there were some riots in some locations where the police had to be called it to break it up!
To be fair, a lot of the blame also has to fall on McDonald’s as they severely underestimated how many people really, really, really wanted to get their grubby hands on a packet filled with something that probably has a lot of high fructose corn syrup and virtually no nutritional value. In their infinite wisdom, they decided to make the entire thing “an event” to coincide with the release of something called Buttermilk Crispy Tenders. Oh, and Szechuan Sauce wasn’t the only thing you can get with it. Because Rick and Morty also love Honey Mustard, Spicy Buffalo and Tangy BBQ. Those sauces were mentioned in the episode Total Rickall, weren’t they?
Not only did McDonald’s only make the Szechuan Sauce available on that one day, they also only released a limited quantity of the stuff! It’s been reported that only a few stores were able to get some stock of the sauce and they only got, at most, 30 packets. Rick and Morty is currently one of the most popular cartoons on Adult Swim, if not in the world as of right now, with each episode drawing in more than 2 million viewers per episode. Why in the heck would McDonald’s think that a meager supply of 30 packets at limited stores on one day would be enough? That’s a Jerry Smith level of a marketing mistake!
The weird thing is that the promotion wasn’t even an official tie-in to Rick and Morty! McDonald’s never bothered to contact Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon to get their permission to do the promotion. Legally, I don’t even think Adult Swim could sue them because McDonald’s really went out of their way to just hint that they were re-releasing the Szechuan Sauce because of Rick’s epic rant. Even the art on the packaging of the Szechuan Sauce looks like a really retarded copy of the show. I’m not really sure if I can use the word “retarded” in that way… but I will anyway.
While McDonald’s certainly screwed the pooch with this “retarded” promotion, most of the blame falls on the fans for acting all “retarded” regarding the situation. They decided that, just because a popular cartoon character was so obsessed by it, they also had to get some of that “Mulan Szechuan Teriyaki dipping sauce” because they also became obsessed with the sauce like Rick. It’s these fans, the really toxic ones that give the more decent fans a bad name. What’s worse, they don’t really seem to understand Rick and Morty.
It’s these same toxic fans that say that you have to be really smart to understand the humor of Rick and Morty. Honestly, I don’t think so. Rick and Morty can be incredibly clever and delve into some really deep thoughts and sci-fi elements such as the multiverse, how small we are in universe and how we can have good and bad memories of our loved ones, among other mind-bending stuff. But it’s also about making parodies of movies like Inception and The Purge, sci-fi tropes, silly improv and characters with silly names like Mr. Poopy Butthole. It’s a “smart” show at times, but you don’t have to have a genius to understand the concepts. The problem with the toxic cans is that they think, just because they can understand most of the concepts the show throws at them, they think they’re incredibly smart just like Rick is. I mean, there’s a character named Mr. Poopy Butthole!
Rick is also the smartest person in the multiverse and he’s also an asshole. He’s very nihilistic and, because of his understanding of how the universes (yes, plural) work and how small he is in the grand scheme of it all, he tends to act like a jerk to pretty much everyone he comes across. It seems a lot of fans are equating being an asshole for being smart because of how Rick behaves. But it doesn’t work that way! Yes, Rick is an asshole but he does have the smarts to back up his behavior! Most of the toxic fans during the McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce debacle were just being assholes without the intelligence to back it up!
But you know what the worst thing about the toxic fanbase and how they behaved when they weren’t able to get any Szechuan Sauce was? It shows how, even though they really want to be like Rick Sanchez, they’re actually behaving like all the Mortys and the Jerrys in the world… or the other Ricks in the multiverse. Instead of trying to stand out and be different, the toxic fans decided to band together and cluster into one big ball of toxic goo. Instead of following the path that the Rick of Earth C127 follows and try to be a true individual, the toxic fans are acting like the Ricks from the Citadel of Ricks, thus making them less Rick than the Rick-est Rick there is.
Instead of trying to want their own thing, the toxic fans had to be told to want the McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce. They decided to go out an riot for something so inconsequential as a condiment that you can easily make at home… or at other restaurants. No, because they’re soooooo smart, the only one they had to have was the one that was available at McDonald’s for that one day and they were willing to pay thousands of dollars on eBay, trade in their car or dip their McNuggets in a Szechuan packet that someone smashed on the sidewalk. Because Rick Sanchez said the sauce was special and they want to be special as well.
I will say that I still love Rick and Morty and I am a huge fan of the show. I love the weird humor Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon instill in the show. I love how witty it can be and how they can cram in a good mixture of really clever jokes, stupid parodies and juvenile humor into a fast-paced 20 minute time slot. However, the toxic fans really does sour the entire thing for me… which is probably what Szechan Sauce kinda tastes like. Sour.
What do you think of the entire McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce debacle and Rick and Morty’s toxic fans? Let me know in the comments below!