We’re back! Hello, and welcome to what I guess counts as another season of House of Pain, or a season preview, or something. I am, as always, your friendly neighborhood Senor Weaselo, and for this first episode or post or whatever of the 2018 offseason, I’ve got a doozy. First off, it’s not a hot sauce! So that’s a deviation from the norm. It is, however, still sauce-related, and considering what it is, I had to take a crack at it. And it’s outlandish enough to still count under the umbrella of “Insane Shit,” considering it involves fast food. So what could it possibly be?
All right, enough being coy, it’s the Szechuan sauce from McDonald’s. You know, the one that Rick (and then the Nathan Fillion Gromflomite—yes that’s what they’re called) raved about in the Season 3 premiere of Rick & Morty?
And then McDonald’s brought it back in limited quantities for one day only? And by limited quantities, I mean, like three or four packets or some other ridiculously small number at VERY select stores? Which pissed off a few totally sane people. And let to a bubble of Szechuan sauce packets on eBay. They were going for a thousand bucks or some outrageous amount, because people are insane. And also stupid.
Well, they brought it back. For more than one day! And more than a hilariously small number of sauce packets per store! So with that knowledge, I had to check it out for myself—the condiment of Troy, the sauce that launched a thousand memes.
First things first, the backstory of the sauce’s origins: Well, it was indeed to commemorate Mulan, as the commercial from 1998 clearly shows. (For those keeping score of dates, stop, but Mulan came out in theaters June 19th, 1998 and I imagine the sauce came out right before its release, so beginning of June? So it’s not exactly 20 years, but fuck it, close enough). And then it got locked away and wasn’t a thing for like 19 years until Rick wanted that Mulan McNugget sauce, even if it takes 97 years, Morty. From that episode airing it took 6 months for it to be commercially available (for that one day) and Justin Roiland and the writers got a gallon jug of it even before that (which I am hoping was not in storage for 19 years, but hell, could’ve been).
Second things, and more important things in relation to this post: Is it any good? Does it live up to the hype and inevitable overhype of pop culture memery?
Okay, you already can guess the answer to the second question.
(It’s a useful clip, gotta say.)
Admittedly, I led the witness on that one. Did you really think I was going to say “Holy shit this is the greatest sauce I have ever tasted”? Of course not. So in that case let’s focus on the first question, is it any good? Or at least decent? Well, let’s get into the
pink goop meat of the matter.
First things first, presentation! You can tell it’s special because it’s in a black cup with a black and red label, as opposed to all the other sauces that have white cups and not-black labels! And I missed an opportunity to pull out the order quote, “Yeah, I’d like to get a 10-piece McNugget and a bunch of the Szechuan sauce. Like, as much as you’re allowed to give me.” Because I had to ask, “Do you have the Szechuan sauce?” “Yes.” “Then I’ll take that.” And then they still tried to give me sweet & sour and barbecue and I had to ask to swap the sauces out when I got my food because nobody punched my sauce request in. All right, I’m not gonna yell too much at that, gotta keep the line moving. But yeah, presentation, the black is a nice touch of specialness, though when you open it up you can’t actually get a good view of the sauce because it’s a dark-colored sauce on a dark background.
As far as view of sauce goes, it’s that-colored above. A, um, saucy brown? It’s worth note, I guess, but it’s not the most important thing, it’s just good info. As for the important things, like the taste and all, I can definitely say it’s… interesting.
Honestly, it’s a little difficult to pinpoint at first. I tried to figure out if it tasted like a combination of two other sauces, but if it does I can’t put my finger on the combination. It’s not Szechuan, though. The venerable Yeah right has mentioned some of the qualities of true Szechuan cuisine once or twice, with its use of its peppercorns and chiles. This does not have those things. I mean, the second ingredient is sugar, and comparing it… well, a quick googling shows it’s more like teriyaki sauce than some kind of ancient mystical Szechuan Chinese dip. Hell, teriyaki’s not even from the right country.
(Yes, I’ve used the Catscratch bit before, too. Fittingly enough I used it in my post about actually going to China, so I figure the reuse is allowable. Yes, Hermana Weaselo and I were the only people who watched that cartoon. Moving on.)
So doing the bare minimum of research does make it less interesting. I mean, there’s a little bit of a garlic and ginger taste under the sweetness (and I think there’s a little too much of the sweetness, btw), but that’s normal for teriyaki. So to compare it to that, it’s… yeah, it’s fine. A little too much sweetness, not enough of the garlic and ginger to cut through it. Some preserving and thickening agents I guess to make it so it dips nicely and so it lasts in a gallon jug for 19 years if necessary. But again, you’re probably not going to expect something mind-blowingly amazing, and it is interesting enough that I had to sit down and think about what exactly it was. And it’s perfectly edible, I mean I’m not dead yet.
So final thoughts, me? Well, it is a perfectly cromulent condiment, but I’m gonna disagree with Rick and Cornvelious Daniel (yes, that’s his name) that this sauce is incredible. Worth the meme hype? Not really, no. I didn’t like McNuggets as a kid (I favored a regular hamburger, no onions, extra pickles… I’m rather picky) and even now if I do go and I want chicken I get the chicken strips (but they recently changed those; the Szechuan one-day release semi-coincided with that), so maybe it’s a personal lack of nostalgia goggles over it and knowing that 6-year-old Senor wouldn’t have touched the sauce with a 15-foot pole (I’ve gotten better… slightly), but I did it, I tried it, I can go back to my life now, or at least my standard dipping sauce (it’s me, so it’s Buffalo). Should you try it? I mean, if you were going to get McNuggets or chicken strips anyway and it’s still an option? Yeah, fuck it, why not, do it at least once, it’s better than eating Tide Pods.
Senor Weaselo will be going back to hot sauce in the next installment, thank goodness. Also he’s a bit bummed that he finished his last bottle of Curbstomp and Defcon Sauces doesn’t make it anymore. But hey, it means there’s a little more room in the fridge to buy stuff, right?
Also it’s a bit late notice in terms of trying to corral people, but the NYC Hot Sauce Expo’ll be April 21st and 22nd if you really want to go (I’ll be there the 22nd unless I’m working). Or you could go to the one in Chicago in June, or the other ones all over the country—there’ll be another in Arizona, one in Southern California, and one in Portland, and I might be missing one or two others. And then you can write your own BotG about it, because I’m planning on being a little less specific this year, as I don’t need to give every little detail again.