McDonald's plus "Rick & Morty" fans equals a shitshow.
Fittingly enough, it all started on April Fool's Day of this year. That was when Cartoon Network abruptly dropped the long-awaited first episode of Rick & Morty's third season, "The Rickshank Rickdemption," on unsuspecting fans. A relatively small facet of that episode involves the show's titular mad scientist, Rick Sanchez, attempting to track down McDonald's 1998 "Szechuan" teriyaki flavored dipping sauce, which was a promotional tie-in for the movie Mulan.
Fans latched onto this unattainable bit of pop-culture arcana and got tens of thousands of signatures on a change.org petition, at which point things got stupid. McDonald's, smelling some viral branding buzz, sent Rick & Morty co-creator Justin Roiland a bottle of the stuff. Another bottle ended up on the auction block and, after some drama, went for an astonishing $15,000 to none other than noted silly-car-owner and EDM ding-dong Deadmau5.
Inevitably, it was announced last week that McDonald's was going to make the collective Rick & Morty fandom's dreams come true by releasing a limited amount of the hot-ticket sauce as part of a push to promote their new buttermilk crispy tenders. They even made some janky-ass not-quite-copyright-infringing posters for the occasion. Only a fraction of the stores would be doling out the teriyaki goodness, and lo and behold, a west-side Madison location out on University Avenue was one of only five in the state to get in on the action. McDonald's declared that the 0.8 ounce packets would be handed out Saturday at 2 p.m.
This was big enough news to warrant front-page coverage from the Wisconsin State Journal! Sure, it was below the fold, but the front page is the dang front page, right? The article mentioned that "An Omaha restaurant is expected to have only 40 packets, according to the Omaha World-Herald" and Madison store owner Carrie Barndt said that she was unaware of how many packets her store would receive.
Cut to... Saturday afternoon, 4500 University Ave.:
Reports of availability are all over the place, with some saying there were only 25 packets.
And others saying 50.
Regardless of the actual amounts, lots of people were pissed.
It could be worse. Other than some light trolling, it sounds like Madisonians handled themselves with relative decency, especially compared to sauce-chasers elsewhere in the country. Footage of crestfallen Rick & Morty fans in California berating McDonald's employees with chants of "WE WANT SAUCE!" made it all the way to the BBC (as if we needed more evidence that some of Rick & Morty's most vocal supporters are dickheads).
That said, though, I'm gonna echo Isthmus restaurant critic Kyle Nabilcy's sentiment that McDonald's pulled a pretty fast one here: