McDonald's surprised Rick and Morty fans on Sunday when it announced an extremely limited return of the infamous Szechuan sauce, and it turns out the company also surprised co-creator Dan Harmon.
Harmon spoke with Polygon at New York Comic Con this week and revealed that even he didn't see a one-off joke about the Mulan movie tie-in promotional sauce from 1998 going this far. He did, however, think the whole situation is awesome.
"I think it's hysterical," Harmon said. "The [version of Mr.] Poopybutthole with the slightly shorter hat and McDonald's vague allusions to 'Hey, you seem like someone who likes traveling the galaxy kind of through a portal sort of thing, maybe you should have some Szechuan sauce."
If you're not familiar with how this current Szechuan sauce craze got started, here's a breakdown: In the third season Rick and Morty premiere episode, "The Rickshank Rickdemption," Rick is interrogated by a member of the Galactic Federation who wants to know what the secret to Rick's portal gun is. The gun, you see, allows him to travel across dimensions at will. Rick then makes up a story to con the Federation, during which he and the interrogator go to McDonald's to try the limited-edition Szechuan sauce. At episode's end, Rick reveals to Morty that the point of the trip was simply to taste the limited-edition sauce once more.
The joke, which began as a rip on co-creator Justin Roiland who also happens to be obsessed with the sauce, resulted in McDonald's sending Roiland a large jug of the sauce. However, Harmon confirmed that he had no idea that McDonald's was bringing back the Szechuan sauce, and while the fast food chain also never mentions Rick and Morty as the inspiration, the art on the sauce's package as well as a poster contains just enough homages that it's obvious.
"Look at that art, look at the font," Harmon said. "Look, I'm not being sarcastic when I talk about this. If anyone from McDonald's is reading this, I don't see anything wrong with what they're doing, and clearly neither does their legal department."
And if it wasn't clear enough, Harmon expressed that McDonald's creative choices amused him.
"It's really funny because if you're going to get robbed, get robbed by McDonald's," Harmon said.