Whatever you think about Rick and Morty, it’s fair to say the Adult Swim animation has attracted some very obsessive fans.
While we’ve been told you need a high IQ to properly enjoy the show, the sight of people eating a McDonald’s dipping sauce off the floor of a car park seems to go against that.
Maybe we just don’t understand, though.
What we do understand, however, is that it’s almost certain the original sauce – released to promote the Disney film Mulan back in the ‘90s – didn’t contain any actual Szechuan pepper.
In fairness the clues were there. Rick describes it as a ‘Mulan Szechuan Teriyaki dipping sauce’ – combining unrelated elements of Chinese and Japanese cuisine.
However, it has now emerged that the sauce *couldn’t* have been a genuine Szechuan pepper-based sauce. Why? Because the pepper in question was banned in the United States at the time Mulan was released.
As spotted by redditor gilwen0017, the Szechuan (or Sichuan) peppercorn used to flavour dishes from the region was outlawed in America for more than 30 years.
A 2005 New York Times article explains how concerns about the citrus industry caused American authorities to ban the peppercorn in 1968, though the ban was lifted in the mid-2000s, a few years after Mulan was released in cinemas.
The revamped sauce, which received a limited release this month (too limited in the eyes of some hardcore fans) is essentially a sweet and slightly spicy sauce, but Sichuan pepper is nowhere to be found.
So yes, it might be inspired by the region, but you’re more likely to get an authentic Szechuan sauce in your local Chinese restaurant.
Your local Chinese restaurant didn’t feature in a cartoon, though, so each to their own.
(Images: Adult Swim/McDonald’s)