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South Bend gets lost in the sauce

| Thursday, October 12, 2017

This past Saturday started just like any other for me, I slept in a bit too much before rising to phone-in a workout. However, as I was exercising I realized this was no ordinary Saturday — this was the day McDonald’s had decided to bring back the Szechuan sauce they had released for a limited time as part of a promotion for the movie “Mulan.” This time the Szechuan sauce was not explicitly tied in with any project, but anyone who watches the show “Rick and Morty” knows why they did it. For those who don’t know, “Rick and Morty” is an animated comedy show on Adult Swim that is centered on the zany escapades of mad scientist Rick Sanchez, and his grandson, Morty Smith. Those of you who have never seen the show might be wondering what on earth the connection between this late-night show and old McDonald’s sauce is. Well, in the long-awaited, surprise released premiere of the third season, Rick goes on an absurd, excessively long rant about how much he wants that Mulan Szechuan sauce back. A strange premise, yes, but it is exactly the type of joke that strikes a chord with fans of the show. Passionate “Rick and Morty” fans latched on to this idea and bombarded McDonald’s social media and the greater internet landscape with pleas for the return of the sauce. McDonald’s listened, albeit months later, and scheduled Oct. 7 as the day for a limited rerelease of the sauce.

Back to my story, my roommates and I decided it would be fun to try the much-hyped condiment. We were all starving, however, and wanted some better food first (sorry McDonald’s). We stopped elsewhere for lunch and were planning on heading to McDonald’s after. We were about to leave the restaurant at about 1:40 p.m. for the 2 p.m. start time when I checked my Snapchat. I had expected a line for the sauce, but nothing could have prepared me for what I saw on one of my friend’s snap stories. At least 200 people were visible in the picture with who knows how many off screen. Not being too invested in the first place and doubtful of our chances to successfully acquire the sauce, we decided to head back to campus.

The McDonald’s we were planning on going to was the only one in South Bend offering the sauce special — and only one of three in the entire state of Indiana. I don’t know how popular “Rick and Morty” is across the greater South Bend area, but I know many impassioned fans on our own campus, so perhaps I should have expected the numbers. What I will never be able to comprehend, however, is the madness that took place in some other McDonald’s across the country. Fans at a McDonald’s in Los Angeles got so rowdy that the police actually had to be called to keep the peace. According to a first-hand account on Youtube, customers who had waited upwards of 10 hours in line were bypassed by people who had only been there for half an hour, and the restaurant did not have nearly enough sauce for all. I suppose I can empathize with the frustration of someone cheating you out of something you waited 10 hours for, but I am having trouble wondering what would motivate someone to wait 10 hours for a packet of likely mediocre sauce. It is really a testament to the power of the internet and — dare I say it — memes. “Rick and Morty” has always had a large fan base among rabid internet dwellers; there is something about its catchy and unique humor that makes it easily discussed and reproduced among various social media platforms. This passion, combined with the fact that this has been hoped for since all the way back to April 1, made for a perfect storm so to speak. McDonald’s was shocked by the response, and is planning to release the sauce again — this time for a longer period and in more restaurants. I will be joining many of my fellow fans to finally get my hands on that sauce, I just ask that we temper our expectations and remember that at the end of the day, it is only a packet of sauce.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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