McDonald’s auctions limited edition bottle of Big Mac Special Sauce

Feb 09, 2015

The list of ingredients which constitute the special sauce unique to McDonald’s Big Macs is not the closely-guarded secret it once was, having been quietly revealed in a 2012 YouTube video by the company’s executive chef Dan Coudreaut. But although the mixture of mayonnaise, ketchup and a few other ingredients may not contain anything surprising, there must still be something special about it. McDonald’s Australia is auctioning off a branded bottle of Big Mac Special Sauce on eBay and is demanding an impressive amount of money.

According to a Time article from February 2, 2015, McDonald’s Australia is auctioning one squeeze bottle of an ultra-limited 200 squeeze-bottle run of Big Mac Special Sauce. At the time, the bidding had already hit $18,000 U.S. dollars ($23,000 A.U. dollars). According to a tweet sent out by McDonald’s, the money earned from the auction will go to Ronald McDonald House Charities Australia.

The auctioning of the ultra-limited condiment could represent McDonald’s take on the trend of releasing online-only, limited-edition runs of niche — or in this case, kitsch — products to see if they will play with a broader audience. For example, in late 2014, Coca-Cola brought back Surge soda, a product discontinued in the ’90s, as a product available only on Amazon. Pepsi then jumped on the bandwagon, selling its stevia-sweetened Pepsi True only on Amazon. According to Consumerist, Pepsi True will soon be appearing on store shelves in three test markets.

McDonald’s approach would square with its emerging tendency to use Australia as a testing ground for innovations. In October 2014, McDonald’s Australia began to roll out "Build-a-Burger" touch screen ordering which allows customers to get customized, high-end burgers more akin to what they would find at gastropubs than at McDonald’s. The company has continued to explore the format, with two more new Australian locations outfitted with the tech-savvy ordering and fancy menu opening in the past few months, according to Lifehacker from Australia.

Whether McDonald’s intends to roll out the Big Mac Special Sauce as a regular product or not, some enterprising eBay users have begun to take advantage of the massive internet buzz over the sauce and its scarcity. Branded, individual dipping tubs of the special sauce, available in Australian McDonald’s locations for 50 cents each, have been appearing on eBay for $7.95 A.U. each.

On February 3, an eBay listing appeared for the domain with a Buy-It-Now price of $20,000. The Buy-It-Now price has since been removed.

How will the auction of special sauce help McDonald’s restaurants in Australia? Do you see the company eventually doing the same thing in the U.S.? Do you see McDonald’s eventually packaging its special sauce for sale in grocery stores similarly to what it is doing with its McCafe coffee?

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7 Comments on "McDonald’s auctions limited edition bottle of Big Mac Special Sauce"

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Max Goldberg

Offering special sauce for auction is a great gimmick, and right now McDonald’s needs all of the positive buzz it can gather. At the same time, McDonald’s is raising money for their favorite charity. It’s a win/win. Special sauce, like Coke’s formula, is a brand mystique, a basic building block of the company’s success. Perhaps McDonald’s will harness the value of the sauce by making it available at retail, like McCafe coffee. It’s another revenue stream, and serves to remind people about why they used to love McDonald’s.

Dick Seesel

There was a fascinating article last Thursday in the New York Times, in which a business reporter took celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian to McDonald’s—for the first time, which is hard to believe. Mr. Zakarian hit the nail on the head: Good coffee and fries (he wouldn’t change a thing), bad burgers. He shared his opinion that McDonald’s has too many menu options, needs to work on service and decor and above all needs to improve the burgers.

I use this to preface my comment about auctioning off Big Mac “special sauce” or selling it in grocery stores. The auction may be a clever way to generate awareness (like the Pay with Lovin’ campaign) but it does not solve the fundamental issues of food quality and inconsistent service. McDonald’s can’t fix its operational problems with a marketing campaign—the campaign needs to follow the improvements.

As to selling “special sauce” at the grocery store: Thousand Island dressing, anyone?

Ryan Mathews

I really don’t know enough about Australian foodservice patterns to answer the first part of the question BUT of course they’ll try it here. I assume—given human nature—you can sell anything on eBay and find somebody willing to buy it.

As to sales in U.S. supermarkets, America is the place where you can buy White Castle in the freezer section and where the aisles are filled with sauces from every chef ever mentioned on The Cooking Channel and every quasi-celebrity stalked by TMZ.

Why not another McEntry into an already overly-crowded field?

richard freund
richard freund
2 years 8 months ago

It won’t help. Mcdonald’s is being out-marketed by a plethora of competitors and McDonald’s does not get it. Selling a “special sauce” will not help them. They need to refresh the brand.

gordon arnold

They still don’t get it upstairs in the board room. The problems are about price and product content. If you are interested, that is. You don’t have to believe me, just ask the people who no longer stop in.

David Livingston
2 years 8 months ago

Probably won’t go anywhere. It’s Thousand Island dressing for all practical purposes. I really wonder if anyone can tell the difference? Aldi might come up with a private label hamburger sauce like they did with Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.

Craig Sundstrom

100%. The poll results tell all we need to know.


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