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McDonald’s Szechuan sauce shortage disappoints Long Island fans

People waiting to try the limited-edition Szechuan teriyaki

People waiting to try the limited-edition Szechuan teriyaki dipping sauce line up at a McDonald's in Long Island City, Queens on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. Credit: Noel Cordero/The Timelapse

Long Island customers were left hungry, disappointed and feeling saucy on social media when a limited-edition rerelease of a 1990s McDonald’s chicken nugget dipping sauce never made it to fans Saturday.

Across the country and at three Long Island locations, customers ventured to the fast-food chain for a taste of Szechuan teriyaki dipping sauce during a one-day-only promotion. Instead, they found long lines, overwhelmed staff and a severe shortage of the condiment.

In statements, McDonald’s said it underestimated the demand for the sauce, which was originally released as part of a 1998 promotional campaign for the Disney movie “Mulan.”

“Our super-limited batch, though well-intentioned, clearly wasn’t enough to meet that demand,” the company said in a statement posted to Twitter on Sunday. “We want to make this right.”

The sauce has not been available for more than 15 years, but captured customer attention again after the titular Rick from the Adult Swim show “Rick and Morty” raved about it in an April 2017 episode. Show fans bombarded McDonald’s with requests to resurrect the sauce and even started a petition that received nearly 45,000 signatures.

A company spokeswoman said the sauce — along with chicken tenders and a series of limited-edition sauce posters — was supposed to be available at three Long Island locations: Uniondale, Hempstead and Stony Brook.

Matthew Robertson, a Stony Brook University student, took an Uber to the Stony Brook location Saturday, only to find a packed parking lot and sad fans in “Rick and Morty” T-shirts, holding signs that read “no sauce” to warn those arriving.

“I thought it was funny at first. A lot of people showed up,” Robertson, 18, said. “But then I saw the signs.”

Staff were overwhelmed, and Robertson said he decided to order a regular meal and leave.

On social media, fans nationwide shared disappointment and frustration after leaving McDonald’s empty-handed.

In California, social media users posted video of crowds harassing McDonald’s employees in at least two locations and yelling “Szechuan sauce.” A search on eBay brings up hundreds of listings for sauce packets, being sold for anywhere from $50 to $600.

“Go to hell McDonalds,” wrote a Farmingville Facebook user and “Ricky and Morty” fan, who said she arrived at a McDonald’s at 10:30 a.m., hours before the promotion was scheduled to start at 2 p.m.

Mario Contreras, 29, of Freeport, took Saturday off from his job driving for Lyft to go to the Uniondale location.

After waiting in line for about 20 minutes, the “Rick and Morty” fan said a store manager came out and told the crowd of nearly 100 people that the store had not received the sauce and only nine posters. Contreras joined a mad dash of customers who headed to the Stony Brook location, but was disappointed there, too, he said.

“It reminded me of the feeling when you ask for a specific Christmas present and you open it up to find a sweater,” Contreras said. “It was just complete disappointment.”

McDonald’s said in statements it plans to bring the sauce back for another promotion this winter. Contreras said he is remaining skeptical, but making preparations for a second chance at Szechuan sauce.

“Just in case, whatever time they say it’s going to be available, I’m going to show up at least an hour early,” Contreras said.

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