- McDonald's is bringing back its popular Szechuan dipping sauce, the fast-food chain confirmed on Twitter Tuesday night. The sauce became highly coveted following the condiment's appearance in the animated TV series "Rick and Morty," where the mad scientist Rick Sanchez is obsessed with it.
- On Feb. 22, McDonald's will announce when and where fans can find the sauce. In the same tweet that confirmed the news, the company also teased a three-episode "investigative" podcast that examines what led up to October's sauce-related madness, when zealous — sometimes even unruly — consumers lined up for the sauce and expressed their distress on social media about its limited availability. The series, aptly named "The Sauce," was created with Studio@Gizmodo and Onion Labs.
- This news comes after multiple employees shared photos on social media of the coveted sauce being delivered to McDonald's locations earlier this week, along with internal training instructions for how to handle the sauce's rollout.
From a marketing perspective, while McDonald's re-release of Szechuan sauce is interesting, what's even more compelling is the podcast set to debut on Feb. 22. McDonald's describes the series as an "investigative" channel to answer questions and "give fans the unbelievable stories leading up to, and behind, last year's Szechuan saga." By straightforwardly admitting McDonald's mistakes and addressing what caused the company's misstep, the podcast description reads more like the language of a classic crisis management response — albeit in a much more creative medium than the traditional apology letter or video typically produced by corporate PR teams.
The podcast will likely drive major attention for McDonald's on social media, as audio content is not typically in fast-food chains' marketing arsenals. The video teasing the podcast features a sauce packet with ingredients "anticipation," "extremely long lines," "regret" and "a celebrity DJ." Perhaps the latter hints at a marketing effort that's yet to be announced.
We heard you and have been working tirelessly to bring back The Sauce. On 2/22, we announce when/where Szechuan Sauce will return, but also answer the burning question: “What happened to The Sauce?!” To find out, visit https://t.co/Gcrq5kM71E or download the podcast series. pic.twitter.com/ezHbAqL82i— McDonald's (@McDonalds) February 20, 2018
With the broader move, McDonald's is keeping its promise and bringing back the beloved dipping sauce after it suffered a particularly nasty fallout during the sauce's limited release in October. This time, it's also serving up a mini podcast series and dedicated website, wewantthesauce.com. But don't rejoice just yet, Szechuan aficionados. It appears that the special dipping sauce will still be limited-edition. According to an internal document an employee shared on social media, each McDonald's restaurant will receive six cases of 250 sauce packets, and Walmart locations will receive three cases of the same amount.
The printout in the post reads: "Restaurants will be receiving a limited supply of Szechuan dipping sauce for Chicken McNuggets and Buttermilk Crispy Tender. This is a one-time shipment and no product is available for reorder."
McDonald's Szechuan-related PR headache began in October, when the chain's locations immediately ran out of the limited-edition sauce and accompanying posters, angering crowds that lined up in and outside of the restaurants. In at least one instance, the police were called to settle the rowdy fans chanting "we want sauce" and harassing employees to hand over packets of the sauce that many locations had sold out of. Following the backlash it faced on social media, the company said it would create more of the dipping sauce to satisfy consumer demands — though the upcoming release will likely spur another bout of unrest in stores and online.