Thanks to the Rick and Morty season three premiere that aired on April 1, the internet is up in arms over a McDonald's McNugget dipping sauce from 1998.
The McDonald's Szechuan sauce was a limited time release to help promote the 1998 Disney film Mulan. Nobody seemed to miss the obscure sauce until Rick, the series' mad scientist main character, travels back to 1998 and gets the Szechuan sauce at a McDonald's drive-thru. At the end of the episode, he pleads for McDonald's to bring back the sauce.
"I'm not driven by avenging my dead family," Rick says. "I'm driven by finding that McNugget sauce." He then confesses that the sauce search will be his "series arc": "If it takes nine seasons, I want that McNugget Szechuan sauce," Rick says.
The hunt for authentic McDonald's Szechuan Sauce
A Change.org petition asking McDonald's to bring back the sauce has almost 22,000 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon. People are so taken with the sauce, some are bidding over $56,000 on eBay for a mere photo of the Mulan McNugget sauce.
But McDonald's has yet to release any official statement regarding the sauce. The fast food giant's social media team has been coy in response to all the attention.
After an "Ask Me Anything" interview request was made on Reddit for someone who had tried the McDonald's sauce, Keith Williams, an IT support engineer, posted a recipe replicating the Mulan Szechuan sauce that he developed with his father at least 12 years ago, he said in an email. Williams' father ran restaurants for 18 years and Williams spent five years working in food, noting his father instilled "a love of cooking" in him.
"The Szechuan Sauce comment stuck in people's minds because people want what they cannot have."
After Williams posted the recipe on Monday, he woke up Tuesday morning to a barrage of comments, replies and direct messages on Reddit. The recipe gained traction after Andrew Rea — the creator of Binging With Babish, a popular YouTube channel dedicated to recreating dishes in TV shows and movies — published a video on Tuesday in which he made Williams' recipe.
"When it comes to the greatness of the Szechuan Sauce, it's all about the unique flavor," Williams said. "The ['Rick & Morty'] Szechuan Sauce comment stuck in people's minds because people want what they cannot have."
In an interview on Tuesday, Rea agreed that the sauce's unattainability is what makes it obsession-worthy.
"Even if you were too young to remember it, there's something about the fact that it's now unattainable and gone forever," he said. "Plus, it was so passionately described by Rick."
Rea proclaimed that Williams' sauce was better than the other two Szechuan sauce recreations he tried in the Binging With Babish episode. (Though if you're not motivated enough to DIY, Rea said that mixing Sweet and Sour and Tangy BBQ McNuggets sauce tasted decent.)
Copycat McDonald's Szechuan Sauce
Until McDonald's reveals the recipe, you can make your own delicious sauce using Williams' recipe. No Szechuan peppers necessary; you should be able to grab most of the ingredients at your local supermarket (find plum sake at a wine store or Asian marketplace).
• 6 cloves garlic
• 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• Soy sauce (do not use low sodium)
• 2 tablespoons plum sake
• 3 1/2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
• 2 tablespoons brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons white sugar
• Red pepper flakes, to taste
• Minced garlic, to taste
1. Mince garlic and heat it up in a skillet.
2. Add balsamic vinegar and soy sauce, to taste. Add the plum sake and let it boil off. (Williams recommends drinking some of the leftover plum sake while cooking.)
3. Add remaining ingredients to skillet. Let simmer for five minutes, stirring constantly.
"Play around with the recipe to your taste. Might want more or less balsamic vinegar. Might want more or more plum sake. I'd definitely recommend you make it several times to figure out your own flavor," Williams wrote on Reddit.
If that recipe doesn't make you want to say "wubalubadubdub," we don't know what will. BRB, we're buying some McNuggets, stat.
Terri Hickey, a spokesperson for McDonalds emailed the following comment to Mic:
"We never say never, because when our customers speak, we listen. And to paraphrase some of our most enthusiastic fans, our sauce is so good that it would be worth waiting 9 seasons or 97 years for."
Patience is a virtue, right?
To whet your appetite in the meantime, watch Rea cook up the other Szechuan sauces in the video below.