McDonald’s faces backlash over Szechuan sauce shortage
McDonald’s customers are seething over a severe shortage of Szechuan sauce.
The burger giant is facing threats of boycotts and class-action suits by angry customers on Twitter after a one-day revival of its long-discontinued Szechuan dipping sauce fell sorely short of demand.
Customers at a Los Angeles McDonald’s chanted “We want sauce!” after getting shortchanged during the Saturday promo, while fights reportedly broke out at numerous other locations as customers tussled over the few packets that were made available.
“There were some stores that just had 20 packets,” said Richard Adams, a former McDonald’s franchisee who runs Franchise Equity Group, a consultancy. “Obviously the plan was executed by people who have no idea what goes on inside a McDonald’s restaurant.”
McDonald’s first introduced its Szechuan sauce in 1998 as part of a promotion with the Disney movie “Mulan.”
It went away and most people forgot about it until earlier this year, when Cartoon Network’s “Rick and Morty” show ignited a cult-like clamor for the sauce, including a petition with 40,000 signatures pleading with McDonald’s to bring it back.
Last week, McDonald’s said it would bring back Szechuan sauce — but for one day only.
“The savory and slightly sweet sauce with hints of soy, ginger, garlic, and slight vinegar notes will be available, along with limited-edition posters, at participating restaurants on Saturday” the company announced Thursday.
Those locations attracted long lines of customers, who tweeted out pictures of Szechuan-obsessed patrons sitting in lawn chairs, as if awaiting the launch of a new iPhone. But many finally got to the front of the line only to learn that there was no more sauce left.
Some of the lucky few who managed to score packets, meanwhile, immediately listed them for auction on eBay.
There were 37 bids for one packet as of Monday afternoon with the highest bid at $218.50. Another listing being watched by 19 people were watching another listing for a single packet that was going for $274.99.
McDonald’s on Sunday issued a written mea culpa for the fiasco, saying it was “not cool.”
“Szechuan Sauce is coming back once again this winter,” the burger joint said. “And instead of being one-day-only and limited to select restaurants, we’re bringing more—a lot more—so that any fan who’s willing to do whatever it takes for Szechuan Sauce will only have to ask for it at a nearby McDonald’s.”