“Rick and Morty,” which revolves around the adventures of wild-haired scientist Rick Sanchez and his grandson, Morty, is pretty much the hot animated series du jour. And the sci-fi antics of the show — which airs on Cartoon Network’s late-night Adult Swim programming block — have now affected reality for us all.
In the third-season premiere, “The Rickshank Rickdemption,” Rick conjures up a childhood memory while at a McDonald’s drive-thru, raving about a brief period in 1998 when the fast-food chain produced a special Szechuan Chicken McNugget sauce as a promotional tie-in with the release of Disney’s “Mulan.”
“It’s delicious!” Rick yelps. “And then they got rid of it, and now it’s gone!”
In a later scene, Rick reveals to Morty that the sauce is essentially the reason for the existence of everything in the universe, and the pursuit of it is his “one-armed man” — a “Fugitive” reference.
With that sweet and spicy seed planted, fans quickly became obsessed with the long-discontinued condiment. As a thank-you, McDonald’s sent a few of the show’s creators bottles of the sauce, one of which found its way to eBay — and sold for $15,000.
And now, as another promotional tie-in — this time to push its new Buttermilk Crispy Tenders chicken strips — McDonald’s is bringing the Szechuan back for one day only, and at only a few locations.
Two of them are in Utah: one in Salt Lake City at 242 S. 700 East, and the other in Provo at 211 W. 1230 North.
The giveaway begins at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Eight other Utah McDonald’s will be handing out special commemorative Szechuan sauce posters that, while not mentioning “Rick and Morty,” have sci-fi graphics that certainly seem to nod to the show.
“They’re making people go to McDonald’s, and that’s hilarious,” said Taylor Hoffman, who’s the assistant manager at Black Cat Comics in Sugar House.
The Rick and Morty Mobile — essentially a big merchandise truck that sold show swag — made a stop at Black Cat June 24, which had a turnout of some 2,000 fans, some of whom came from out of state and camped overnight.
“I don’t think anyone remembers that sauce, so it’s funny that it’s become this thing,” Hoffman said. “I’m not sure if I’ll try to get some, though.”
But be warned: As McDonald’s says on its site, “when we say limited, we mean really, really limited!”
Wubba lubba dub-dub!