A limited-edition 1998 "SzeChuan" McDonald's nugget dipping sauce has sold for US$14,700 (S$20,500) on online auction site eBay, amusing Chinese netizens who say the sauce tastes nothing like Sichuan cuisine.
The dipping sauce was released in McDonald's outlets in the United States in 1998, as part of a promotional tie-up with Disney's Mulan film, which was released that year.
The sale was made on Tuesday (April 11) on eBay, with 187 bids.
After 19 years, what brought the cult-status sauce back to the collective consciousness of the Internet? Nothing less than an animated sitcom.
Cartoon Network and Adult Swim cartoon, Rick And Morty, referenced the sauce in its first episode of its third season, released on April Fool's Day.
In the show, protagonist Rick Sanchez goes on a rant about the sauce.
"I'll go out and find some more of that Mulan, SzeChuan Teriyaki dipping sauce, Morty," he says. "Because that's, that's what this is all about Morty! ...I'm not driven by avenging my dead family... I'm driven by finding that, McNugget Sauce. Nuggets? I want that Mulan McNugget Sauce, Morty... Nine more seasons until I get that dipping SzeChuan sauce!"
After the show aired, a petition was started on Change.org titled: "Bring back McDonald's chicken nugget SzeChuan sauce."
It has since garnered 34,390 supporters, out of the 35,000 goal.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_YC0_d6kR8
The news has spread to China, where it was picked up with amusement.
Some netizens, however, said the sauce was unlikely to be an authentic representation of Sichuan culture.
"Don't even need to try the sauce to know it'll be sweet and sour with a tinge of spiciness - nothing to do with Sichuan," one of the top comments on Sina Weibo read, the South China Morning Post reported on Thursday (April 13).
Other netizens pointed out that Disney was releasing a live-action Mulan film next year, and it could be a marketing ploy.
Additionally, Chinese media reports have said that the sudden interest has spiked prices and sales of some spicy Chinese sauces, such as Guizhou Lao Ganma hot sauce and Wang Zhihe beancurd sauce.