McDonald's teases the return of its special sauce with a parody of "Serial"-type investigative podcasts.
McDonald's tried and failed to ride the hype wagon that is "Rick & Morty," and now the company poking fun at themselves with a brilliant series of podcasts taking a deep dive into the nightmare franchise locations around the country faced when they didn't have enough szechuan sauce.
The new series is a perfect send-up of the popular investigative/true-crime format that has risen in popularity thanks to the "Serial" and "Criminal" podcasts, among others. In "The Sauce," the narrator earnestly tries to get to the root of how this well-intended promotional idea could go so wrong. It's part parody, but also totally true. Things really did get wildly out of control over a dipping sauce.
The dramatic narrative opens, "You're listening to the Sauce, an investigative podcast by McDonald's, Gizmodo and Onion Labs. Oct. 7, 2017. For most of us, this was an unremarkable Saturday. You might not remember what you wore that day, or what the weather was like. But if you worked at McDonald's, it was likely a day you will never forget. 'They didn't realize, I guess the power this sauce had.'"
Szechuan Sauce returns 2/26! 20 MILLION CUPS spread across all US McD's!— McDonald's (@McDonalds) February 22, 2018
The Szechuan saga was unreal. Hear @deadmau5's story, our mistakes and more in our new podcast series w/ @StudioAtGizmodo/@OnionLabs: The Sauce. https://t.co/Gcrq5kM71E
🎧 to Ep 1! https://t.co/Er2nfTYI4q
The creators of "Rick & Morty" framed their April Fools Day 2017 episode around a quest for McDonald's fabled szechuan sauce, an item dating back to 1998 that many at the company had even forgotten they made. It didn't last long, but apparently made an impression on the writers of this cartoon show.
With "Rick & Morty" experiencing a peak of cultural influence at the time, McDonald's decided it might be fun to take that shoutout and turn it into a fun promotional event. So they announced they'd be bringing the sauce back for one day only in honor of "Rick & Morty."
"The Sauce" -- which is itself the next subversive layer in a marketing scheme by McDonalds to launch the SECOND return of szechuan sauce (this time with hopefully enough for everyone) on Feb. 26 -- features interviews with McDonalds employees, managers, executives and "Rick & Morty" fans as our narrator tries to unravel the story of "what happens when the best of intentions go wrong."
The second episode takes a breathtakingly tedious and dramatic journey with a Canadian couple, even detouring to talk about their travails with customs, trying to enter the United States to taste the sweet nectar of the Szechuan gods, before breaking down the moment when the senior executives realized everything was going horribly wrong as fans camping out overnight at their restaurants turned into violent riots that required a police presence.
McDonalds' Chef Mike shared some of the hate tweets he received after the literal riots. "I hate you from the bottom of my heart, you bald bearded [censored].' I think that one is my favorite and I might even get a tattoo of it,'" he said.
Listen to Episode 3 for the conclusion of, “The Sauce.” Hear exactly what went wrong last fall and how we’ve been working every day since then to bring back Szechuan Sauce on 2/26 (w/ qualifying purchase while supplies last)! https://t.co/Gcrq5kM71E https://t.co/ADo3Ln1zDZ— McDonald's (@McDonalds) February 22, 2018
"The Sauce" is a delightfully ridiculous, but also surprisingly informative, exploration of a pop culture event that went about as wrong as it could go. McDonald's is trying again with more szechuan sauce on Feb. 26. This time, they've got 20 million packets heading to every single McDonald's restaurant.
Please don't riot.