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Rick and Morty fans were not happy this weekend after they showed up in droves at a local Los Angeles McDonald’s location for a promotional event by the fast food chain promising a return of their Szechuan sauce.
The sauce, originally created as part of a marketing campaign for the 1998 Disney animated film Mulan, was referenced in the third-season opener of Adult Swim’s sci-fi comedy, “The Rickshank Rickdemption,” when the character Rick mentioned the sauce in a fabricated memory and later claimed that getting his hands on the defunct dipping sauce was his “series arc.” Despite that claim, the sauce was never again referenced in the show.
Following the premiere of the episode on April 1, McDonald’s sent Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland a large container of the sauce, and public interest in attaining some of the long-lost condiment for themselves continued to increase over the subsequent weeks.
The sauce quickly became a meme that swept across social media. After the season finale of the show’s third season earlier this month, McDonald’s promised they would bring back the McNuggets dipping sauce for one day only, on Oct. 7. However, the restaurant did not foresee the overwhelming demand from Rick and Morty fans for the sauce. Fans arrived in huge numbers, lining up around the block at many locations, only to find that McDonald’s had just 20 sauce packets and was awarding them based on a lottery system.
— Natalie Abrams (@NatalieAbrams) October 7, 2017
In Los Angeles, fans numbering in the hundreds dressed in Rick and Morty apparel lined up around the block at a La Brea McDonald’s location, hoping to get a packet of the sauce. Some die-hard Rick and Morty enthusiasts even camped out the night before to assure a prime location in line.
Unrest quickly spread among the crowd at the La Brea McDonald’s, however, as those in line began chanting, “Szechuan sauce!” and, “When I say Szechuan, you say sauce!” When it was announced that the store was not going to be able to accommodate the overwhelming requests for the sauce, the crowd got physical.
Video from the location shows fans shoving and jockeying for position at the front door entrance to gain a coveted ticket to redeem the sauce.
It did not take long for physical altercations to begin taking place. “Police responded to a call at the location,” detective Ross Nemeroff told The Hollywood Reporter. Among the incidents on the call were “four males and females fist-fighting over tickets,” said Nemeroff.
While no official arrests were made, the large crowd of 500 was dispersed by the unit responding to the call.
THR reached out to Roiland and Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon, as well as Adult Swim, for comment on the incident.
“This was not a promotion from Adult Swim or anyone officially connected to Rick and Morty,” a spokesperson for the network told THR.
Roiland tweeted he was “not happy” with how McDonald’s handled the situation on Sunday.
FYI: We had nothing to do with this McDonald’s stuff. Not happy w/how this was handled. Please be cool to the employees it’s not their fault
— Justin Roiland (@JustinRoiland) October 8, 2017
Los Angeles was not the only city to garner such passionate and unruly responses, as McDonald’s locations in Florida and the Bay Area experienced some civil unrest, as well.
McDonald’s responded to the incidents on their Twitter account on Sunday, apologizing for the lack of supply and promising “lots more” sauce and participating locations in the future.
— McDonald’s (@McDonalds) October 8, 2017
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