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The Special Sauce

January 26, 2017

It’s become part of our culture. The things that stand out, well, they often have some “special sauce.”

Just to prove the point, here’s an article about the Special Sauce for University Innovation, here’s one on the Special Sauce of Real Time Customer Feedback, and an NIH report that suggests comprehensiveness is the “special sauce” of the patient-centered medical home.

That’s education, business, and government. I rest my case.

Jeffrey Steingarten and his research assistant would be far better equipped to research the origins of special sauce in the food world. Lacking his resources, and the time to actually conduct the groundwork, I’m going to lazily attribute the phenomenon to McDonald’s. Because even if they weren’t the first brand to market with a “special sauce” the old ditty about the Big Mac build solidified the notion in the American psyche.

What’s the special sauce of the FLB? I have no idea. My best guess is that I just keep on keeping on. Like clockwork I’m here every weekday with a few hundred more words about thoughts on food. Although maybe the blog’s special sauce has something to do with tone, attitude, and content. It’s hard to say.

The reality of the situation is that the FLB has no “special sauce”. However, that’s something that will be corrected very soon.

Who here has read any Joseph Conrad? Right now I’m thinking about Heart of Darkness. The first person to guess the right part will win a prize. But I do have a certain fascination with McDonald’s. And somehow, despite all logic, I seem to be one of their biggest proponents in the Capital Region.

Not too long ago I went out for my first Big Mac in over a decade and I liked it.

Well, imagine my surprise when earlier this week I was contacted by McDonald’s, and asked if I would like one of the 10,000 bottles of “special sauce” they were distributing throughout the U.S.

My initial reaction was, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Until I started thinking about it a little bit more.

Sure, I try to avoid soybean oil and high fructose corn syrup in the food I eat. But like I’ve said many times in the past, I’m not a monk. And our bodies are magnificent machines for helping to filter out the wonderful nutritious stuff from the rest of what we put in our mouths, just as long as we don’t overburden the system.

And I’ll admit that I was enticed by the exclusivity of the offering. For context, there are over 10,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S. So there’s not even enough of this stuff for each restaurant to give a bottle to its very best customer.

Part of me felt badly about taking one of these precious bottles. Surely there would be people who would enjoy it more than I would.

But then I thought of how I would use it. Two words. Any guesses?


I’m going to make Big Mac Tater Tots! Or maybe it’s a Big Mac Tater Tot Salad? Salad sounds wrong. How about Big Mac Tater Tot Nachos? I’m not entirely sure yet. All I know is that it involves tater tots, special sauce, shredded lettuce, American cheese, sliced pickle, and raw onions.

The beef isn’t even necessary. But maybe I’ll do the beef too. I could pick up some up at the Schenectady Greenmarket on Sunday from Bella Terra Farm. This is really starting to shape up into something special.

Before I get too carried away, there is something that the good folks at McDonald’s would like you to know.

Amazingly, and I’m still not quite sure how this is even possible, you can get your own bottle of Special Sauce for free… in Albany. Okay, technically it’s Colonie. But at 2 o’clock today, they will start distributing the very limited supply of bottles from the McDonald’s at 106 Wolf Road.

I have no idea how many bottles they will have. I don’t know what time they will run out. I don’t know what time people will show up to start standing in line. I do know that no purchase is required to receive the sauce, however I’m told that you must say the special code phrase, “There’s a Big Mac for That.”

If I were back in my marketing days, I’d take the 10,000 bottles and divide them evenly by market based on market size. Of course, they took some bottles and gave them to media influencers. Some are being held for a social media giveaway. So my best estimate would lead me to believe there are about three dozen bottles to be had. This is purely a guess.

I’m tempted by both the new mini Mac Jr. and the larger Grand Mac, purely in the interest of science. Do the properties of the classic come through without the middle slice of bread and one fewer burger patties? Does a larger version become too much of a good thing, or would one be better off just ordering two Big Macs instead?

Inquiring minds want to know.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Bob W. permalink
    January 26, 2017 11:26 am

    I haven’t the foggiest which part of “Heart of Darkness” is speaking to you, but the line that comes to mind regarding the current state of affairs:

    “You know I hate, detest, and can’t bear a lie, not because I am straighter than the rest of us, but simply because it appalls me. There is a taint of death, a flavour of mortality in lies – which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world – what I want to forget. It makes me miserable and sick, like biting something rotten would do.”

  2. January 26, 2017 11:29 am

    I don’t know what it is, but I saw that Gand Mac and I need to have one.

  3. Debra permalink
    January 26, 2017 12:15 pm

    This article says they are selling the sauce. Did they get it wrong?

  4. Pam C. permalink
    January 26, 2017 6:02 pm

    I’ve had the Mac Jr. and enjoyed it very much. Great for when you want the flavor, but aren’t hungry enough for the regular one. On the regular one, I usually remove the middle bread layer anyway (after scraping off any onion-sauce-cheese bits). I haven’t tried the Grand Mac, doubt I could finish it, but am not sure what the difference is besides an extra slice of cheese 🧀.

  5. David Nardolillo permalink
    January 26, 2017 11:07 pm

    I think there will be a strong demand for a special sauce bottle on Ebay. Sell your bottle, pad the kids’ college fund and just substitute thousand island dressing on the tater tots!

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