CHICAGO — After a massive turnout of "Rick and Morty" fans overwhelmed the select McDonald's locations serving its coveted Szechuan sauce during a one-day-only promotion Saturday, the restaurant chain said it has heard fans' complaints and is bringing back "a lot more" of the sauce in coming months.
The fast-food restaurant said it was "truly humbled" by the swaths of fans who showed up hoping to get even a single packet of the 1-ounce sauce — a dipping side from 1998 that saw a surge in popularity after being mentioned on the Cartoon Network/Adult Swim show earlier this year.
However, many of those who turned up for the promotion, which began at 2 p.m., left empty-handed.
By 2:30 p.m., the Evanston Police Department had to do crowd control as fans lined up around the perimeter of a 1117 W. Howard St. McDonald's on the Evanston/Rogers Park border.
There, about 60 people were issued tickets that could then be redeemed for a packet of the sauce, according to one customer — a number that came and went while the line outside swelled. As he left, he warned others it was unlikely they would get any.
[Facebook/Rick and Morty; McDonald's]
Four other Chicago locations were also scheduled to offer the sauce in Bucktown, the Loop, Hyde Park and Lincoln Park.
Fans elsewhere in the United States said some employees at the locations listed on the restaurant's website as offering the promotion appeared to be clueless as to its existence, while other stores had only as few as 20 packets. Still, hardcore fans demanded the sauce — so much so that police were called to a Los Angeles location when upset fans became physical.
Disappointed children cried at other locations.
A few lucky sauce snaggers decided to cash in on its popularity, auctioning off the sauce on Ebay for as much as $500. Limited edition posters for the sauce were fetching as much as $2,500.
The company acknowledged the shortage was "not cool" and vowed to "make this right," in a statement issued online.
"Out super-limited batch, though well-intentioned, clearly wasn't near enough to meet that demand," the chain said.
Now, McDonald's said "a lot more" of the sauce, which was originally a promotion for Disney's 1998 film "Mulan," will be back this winter and each location will have ample stock.
"We want to make this right," the company said. "You're some of the best fans in this, or any, dimension...and we plan to deliver on that promise as soon as possible. Stay tuned."
However, not everyone who is a fan of the show was a fan of McDonald's recent sauce promotion, including the "Rick and Morty" creators, themselves.
"FYI: We had nothing to do with this McDonald's stuff," co-creator Justin Roiland tweeted Sunday. "Not happy w/how this was handled. Please be cool to the employees it's not their fault."
McDonald's capitalized on the buzz around the Szechuan sauce following an episode of "Rick and Morty" where character Rick goes on a tirade about craving the sauce and stopping at nothing to find it.
In July, the fast food chain even sent Roiland his very own half-gallon of the stuff, much to his surprise.
But the creators said they weren't aware McDonald's would center a whole new marketing campaign around the sauce — even commissioning artwork for the packaging that was reminiscent of the television show.
"Yes can I get a McBlatantly Unlicensed Integration Meal done not well, hold the permission, extra awkward," the show's other creator, Dan Harmon, tweeted Monday.
Even some fans have called for a boycott of the restaurant after the sauce promotion failure.
McDonald's still hopes to make it up to those who weren't able to partake in the highly-advertised event Saturday.
If you did miss out, some fans on Reddit have attempted to recreate the sauce: To make it, take garlic, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, plum sake, Sriracha, ginger and brown sugar and simmer them for five minutes, stirring constantly.