If it wasn’t already official after guest spots by Keith David and Susan Sarandon and being named-checked by adult actresses, Rick and Morty is no longer Adult Swim’s obscure critical darling. The show’s impressive cultural influence was bolstered by fans tweeting at McDonald’s manager of culinary innovation Mike Haracz so much that the fast food giant brought back its Mulan-inspired Szechuan Sauce.
Follow @Mike_Haracz and ask him to get that SAUCE TO US! Haha— Justin Roiland (@JustinRoiland) August 22, 2017
Back in 1998, McDonald’s rolled out Szechuan Teriyaki Sauce as part of a partnership with Disney to promote the movie Mulan. The sauce was generally relegated to four-piece nugget Happy Meals, but adults with discerning palettes (or the munchies) were happy to indulge as well.
This all ties in to Rick and Morty almost 20 years later, because one of the show’s titular characters has an obsession with Szechuan Teriyaki Sauce. During the Season 3 premiere, Rick Sanchez points to McDonald’s Szechuan Teriyaki Sauce promotion as “the day it all began and ended—the moment that changed everything,” and is fully committed to spending nine seasons hunting the sauce down. Two months after Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland took to Twitter and told the show's fans to tweet at Haracz, things have come full circle.
To be clear, at least half of this is in service of relentless capitalism and the consumption of what is allegedly just deep fried pink slime. Mickey D’s is rolling out a line of “Buttermilk Crispy Tenders,” and the optics of taking advantage of some free promotion in the form of hopping on the Rick and Morty bandwagon helps offset the imaging from Super Size Me and McDonald’s own god awful “Calvin” ads.
If you happen to be at one of the select McDonald’s locations serving Szechuan Teriyaki Sauce on October 7, you can take advantage of some clever cross promotion. And since Mulan is scheduled for a 2019 big screen live action return as the next in an endless line of Hollywood reboots, a similar storyline may very well repeat itself.