Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Few Notes On McDonald's Hot Mustard Sauce

There are certain things you love in life more than most other people do. This is not a revelation I am sharing with you, merely a comment. And sometimes you may not talk much about those things, because you assume most people either don't know about them or just don't care.  But then, every once in a while, you meet someone who cares passionately about one of the same things you do. You think Ah, I'm not the only one, and you spend perhaps an hour discussing something that, to eavesdroppers, sounds bizarre and possibly psychotic. (I once spent more than two hours at a bar holding a conversation with a girl I'd just met about Law & Order episodes from 1995-1997. When she left, the waitress, who was a friend of mine, said to me: "That was freaking weird.")

The movie Diggstown, Andrew Toney's crossover move, Sunset Riders on Sega Genesis... these are just three things I love that I don't spend much time - well, any time, really - talking about with other people. But sometimes I meet someone who appreciates those things as much as I do. And every once in a great while the subject of McDonald's hot mustard comes us and I see that look in someone's eyes: they love it just as much.

I have been reading reports for more than five years now that McDonald's is going to discontinue the hot mustard, but not once have I asked for it and been told by an employee that they are out of it. I doubt it's going anywhere. I never considered writing about it in so much depth. But then something happened the other day. While I was eating McNuggets, I noticed this writing in the box:

What the hell is that? They don't respect their hot mustard enough to even mention it with the others? Ranch is boring. McDonald's barbecue - uh, sorry, BarBeQue - sauce, sweet chili, and sweet and sour all taste of one flavor: sweet. The spicy buffalo is decent, I will admit that. And the honey mustard, while not bad, is indistinguishable from dozens of other honey mustards.

But that hot mustard sauce is... well, it's special. It is unmistakably mustard, but it has a bit of heat to it, a vinegar punch. I have been eating it for as long as I can remember. I won't go into too many stories, but I could:

I used to ask for six hot mustards every time I went to McDonald's. Sometimes they charged me, sometimes they didn't. At one point I had a reserve of perhaps 50 of them, but over the years I used them all.

I once adhered bread crumbs to a piece of chicken using nothing but a smear of egg wash and a tub of McDonald's hot mustard. I baked the chicken in the oven for 25 minutes and served it to two friends. They both proclaimed it "absolutely amazing" (yeah, they were both drunk, but still) and begged me for the recipe.

I once stopped at a McDonald's in the morning on a drive from Portland to Sacramento. It was early November and the sky was so blue it almost hurt my eyes to look at it. In fact, here is a picture from the McDonald's parking lot:

I ordered my usual sausage biscuit and hash browns then asked for some hot mustard. She told me it would be 15 cents. I told her I'd take ten of them. Then I had an idea, one of those thoughts that come to you on vacation when anything goes: "Do you have, like, a case of it that I could buy from you?" I asked the girl behind the counter.

She laughed but then saw that I was serious. She went off and got the manager. After a few seconds of contemplating, he decided he just couldn't do it - not because he didn't want my money, but because that was all the hot mustard sauce he had left. I left with my ten packets of sauce. In my memory I had eaten them all by the time I got back to Pasadena, but that can't be right.


It's been my preferred sauce for McNuggets for as long as I can remember.

But it's not just McNuggets that the hot mustard sauce complements:

I enjoy the McDouble with hot mustard and peperoncini.

The McChicken is equally enhanced with the sauce.

And the hot mustard is indispensable on the sausage biscuit. 

And, in case you're wondering, it's not just McDonald's grub with which I use the sauce:

Trader Joe's hash brown patties with McDonald's hot mustard, goat cheese and basil is one of my favorite breakfasts. Well, pretty much my favorite.

Not surprisingly, pan-fried gyoza go wonderfully with the mustard.

And, finally, I will show you my dinner from last night: a fried chicken "sandwich." I'd intended to make a traditional sandwich but my bread had spoiled so I wrapped it with butter lettuce. I added pickles, Trader Joe's Toscano black pepper cheese, and McDonald's hot mustard. It was, of course, delicious.

Thank you for following along. Normally I wouldn't have written so much about a fast food condiment but, with the loss of Popeye's Delta Sauce, it's probably my favorite one out there. And seeing it disrespected by McDonald's upset me. I don't choose any of those other sauces, McDonald's: I choose the hot mustard. Because it's the best one you've got. Even if you don't realize it.

58 comments:

Michelle said...

Agreed!

Stephen said...

I have never had this, but will do so soon after being prompted by your excellent post. Would you say that it is similar to a Chinese hot mustard, or more like Phillipe's, or....?

JustinM said...

Nah, it's not one of those sinus-blasting things. It's just a delicious mustard, in my opinion. True, I am probably just judging it by fast food standards, but still...

Stephen said...

It sounds fantastic, I look forward to trying it. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Arent you too young to remember Toney?

Jessica said...

I love this stuff! It's concerning that they're not listing it on the box though. If people don't know it's available they won't order it...which could lead McDonalds to believe it's not popular. Which could lead to...

Stephen said...

Here is a very highly rated copycat recipe that you might fall back on if McDonalds ever does discontinue theirs:

6 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard (Use store brand if possible as French's isn't quite right.)
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup (I used light corn syrup)
4 teaspoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce (I used low sodium)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon a dash cayenne pepper (I used nearly an 1/8 teaspoon)
Directions:
1In small microwave safe bowl, combine all ingredients with a fork. Mix well. 2Microwave on high about 30-35 seconds then mix again. 3Cover & refrigerate at least 6 hours to allow the flavors to meld. This makes approximately 4packets worth of hot mustard.

JustinM said...

Anon: Sort of. I don't remember watching him play live, but by the time I was 12 in the early 90s, I had an impressive collection of NBA Films VHS tapes. I used to love watching his highlights. Plus, that was back before players like LeBron and Kobe started giving themselves nicknames; players actually earned nicknames then, and Toney had one of the best: The Boston Strangler.

When I was 13 I read Charles Barkley's autobiography and smiled when I got to this line: "I thought he was the best player on the [76ers] when I got here....the only one I was in awe of was Andrew." I should point out his other teammates included Moses Malone and Julius Erving.

Jessica: Well now my empire will let McDonald's know how beloved it is. I encourage everyone to ask for it.

Can you imagine 50 people a day, I said 50 people a day walking in to McDonald's and asking for hot mustard sauce and walking out? And friends they may think it's a movement...

Anonymous said...

diggstown lol

Anonymous said...

My fav is the hot mustard/sweet n sour combo. Great on nuggets and fries.

JustinM said...

Anon: I mentioned last week that Wonder Boys is one of my ten favorite movies. So is Diggstown.

Anon: I've had both open at the same time, but never combined the two. Next time I get nuggets I guarantee I will try that.

Anonymous said...

My mouth is watering from just looking at all that delicious McD mustard...

CafePasadena said...

I'm left with only this question: Does your girl love your hot mustard sauce too?!

Anna A. said...

Wow! This is an intense passion. Have you send this post to McDs? You've def sold me on it. Have you been able to find any recently? My favorite hot mustard munchie is the goat cheese and hashbrowns. For a minute I though McDs served goat cheese.

JustinM said...

Cafe: I just asked her; she says she does!

Banana: One thing I have learned over the years: McDonald's does not give a f**k about me. If so, they would have at least responded to my pleas to bring back the Shanghai McNuggets. Even if just to tell me that it's not gonna happen.

Mike N. said...

... And that's what it is, the McDonalds Hot Mustard Anti-Massacre movement ...

JustinM said...

Oh, and to answer your question, Anna, I have never not been able to find it. Even when I have read reports over the years that it's disappearing, I have never once asked for the hot mustard sauce and been told that a location is out of it.

Anonymous said...

They changed the recipe years ago and I will never forgive them. Now it's just too sweet and the hotness is practically gone. There is also another flavor that I can't quite comprehend, other than that it's "bad".

dmb5_libra said...

I put the hot mustard sauce on everything. I hoard them in drawers in my kitchen. I completely understand your disappointment in McDonald's lack of respect for the best damn condiment.

Anonymous said...

I always do this. The Hot mustard sauce from Mcdonalds is amazing. I add it to everything at Mcdonalds and at home.

Also, Was wondering if you have eaten at a place called Famous daves. It's a BBQ joint.They have there own Mustard sauce that you would love.

JustinM said...

Yep, definitely. It's on the BBQ blog. I really like their Georgia Mustard Sauce, definitely my favorite of all they offer.

Anonymous said...

I went to my McDonald's in Illinois, and found out that, yes, indeed McDonald's has discontinued Hot Mustard, at least in this state. :(

So long, old friend...

Anonymous said...

I just got some hot mustard sauce at a Hawaii McDonald's, but suspect they're probably burning through their remaining reserves. The packets say copyright 2011. Shoot. I love this sauce so much I just had to write this while finishing lunch at McDonald's.

JustinM said...

Nice. I will say this: I have heard these rumors many times over the years, including being told by store managers the mustard was gone, so I don't know if it's really true this time.

If it IS true... what a bummer.

Anonymous said...

Come to Atlanta...there's still LOTS of hot mustard here. I order it every time I go to McDonald's!

Anonymous said...

I am a hot mustard addict. I've tried other brands but none taste the same. I'd buy it at stores if it where on the shelves. It's really good mixed with honey as well. Anyone else remember when the nuggets first came out and they marketed the as a Chinese style fast food? Even came with chopsticks. Back then, the hot mustard had a tiny bit of poppy seeds in it as part of the original recipe and it was a little hotter. Like the newer stuff almost the same though.

JustinM said...

McNuggets Shanghai? Yes, I've heard of them.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am a McD's Hot Mustard enthusiast. I simply cannot eat the nuggets without it. I too ask for as many as they will give me, even at the newly enforced 15-cent-per rule. And as it would happen, I was in a McDonald's today that didn't carry the delectable sauce buckets, and I was very disheartened to believe that the discontinuance might actually be happening. It was after today that I discovered your post, which I found enjoyable. Thanks for it.

The offending location was:

Anonymous said...

This McD's was unable to produce the good stuff today:
58 Brookside Ave
Chester, NY 10918

GatorApe said...

While I don't eat McNuggets all that often anymore (got burned out on McDonalds with three little ones (who are now past the McDonalds-every-day phase)), I will add that I have *never* had anything BUT Hot Mustard sauce with my McNuggets going on 20 years now. ANd, I have never found a McDonalds that did not have the stuff. It truly is bizarre that McDonalds, for reasons unknown, refuses to "officially" confirm that such a sauce exists!

JustinM said...

First off, great name.

Second, I am right there with you. I got burned out on McDonald's too after always taking my little one there. True, my little one is 32 years old, but it was the same concept, she wanted McDonald's 10x more than I did.

Part of me would like to think that McDonald's is intentionally being coy, not talking about the hot mustard, knowing how much people love it, what a cult following it has. (This post is one of the more popular ones I have ever done; people find it every day.)

But part of me thinks they really don't give a crap and they would take it away at a moments notice if they thought they could save a few cents.

Jon of McNugget said...

This is the greatest blog post I have ever read ... PERIOD. I was brought to near tears to learn that there is one who shares my affinity for the ONLY sauce McDonalds has to offer.

JustinM said...

Thanks. If your parents named you Jon of McNugget you were probably predisposed to liking the sauce, but I'm still glad you love it as much as I do.

Mike Summers said...

It is funny they are discontinuing it in America, they discontinued it in Canada at lest 3 years ago, I stopped eating at McDonalds ENTIRELY, then 6 mos. ago I had hankering so I went back and ordered some nuggets. To my delight they had brought Hot mustard back(the girl said it was back for almost a year) because of customer complaints. So bitchin' does help

Kevin McKissick said...

Yeah I just went through the drive-thru and got the recently $4.99 20 piece, glad they brought that down, and asked for Hot Mustard after I was defaulted to Barbeque, she kinda looked at me funny. had to search for a little while around the front counters, then brought me 1 package of it...

I believe what is happening here is that the classics are dying, thanks to american television being fatter and fatter, we are too busy with new flavors rather then classical perfections.

In case some people do not remember it, yes it is like chinese hot mustard, just milder and sweeter. So it can still break up the membranes of your nostrils, but only slightly.

I ordered it cause I have got the strongest head cold ever, calling it head flu, since not affecting my stomach, my head needs some form of relief.

Anonymous said...

McDonald's Hot Mustard Sauce is the best sauce McDonald's has. They should bottle and sell it in the grocery store. It has horseradish in it though it doesn't say that in the ingredients. I use it with vegetables. Forget ranch dressing.

Anonymous said...

This is the ONLY reason I still even hit up Mickey D's. I just used one of my last 3 tubs on my homemade fried chicken tenders.

um..... said...

This is amazing. I recently had a buddy tell me they've never had it before. I was indignant like Jon Stewart talking about 9/11 firefighters. It's just crazy to me that not everyone feels this way about Hot Mustard. Or has never even tried it.

I was wondering how much it cost McD's to hand each tub out and why they charge for extras. That's how I found this post. As I was reading I realized it doesn't matter 'cause it's worth every penny!

McNug Anecdote: Last time I ordered 20 nugs the woman gave me 3 HM and 3 Spicy Buf. I was in heaven. I enjoy the Spicy Buf but HM will always be king.

Anonymous said...

I am sitting in an airport in Guatemala. I just ordered McNuggets at the terminal McDonalds, like you I've always worried about the HM disappearing. I was offered the sweet and sour, the bbq, & ketchup (yeah, ketchup w/ McNuggests, blech). Seeing as was not offered the HM, I was not expecting them to have it on hand, but I had an hour before my next flight, so I was feeling particularly indifferent when being confronted with possibility of having to explain what I wanted to the Guatemalan cashier that had as much respect for the HM as the box you point out in your post. So I asked if they had it & when she said yes, while I maintained my composure, I can assure that deep inside a small but important part of me was jumping up and down like a little kid that just got news of their school's closure on a snow day. After trying it w/ my 10 nuggets, I want to also say, yes, the airport in Guatemala has got the real thing, tasted just like in the states. I sit here now, satisfied, & waiting for my flight & decided to Google & see if anyone shared my appreciation for the HM & found your post. Thank you for giving me a place to share this.

Regards,

Business traveler

Joe Valles said...

Im a hot mustard junky!! Wont eat my nuggets if they forget my mustard.

Mark Perkins said...

Let me know if you ever find a recipe that is good. I've tried all the clone recipes and they are all wrong.

JustinM said...

No kidding - some of them even call for sour cream. I wonder where some of the people come up with these ideas.

Flourgirl77 said...

It has happened!!!! I ordered hot mustard last week and they said they will NO LONGER BE CARRYING IT!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't begin to tell you how bummed I am. Chelsea-Fremont, NE

JustinM said...

Damn, how recently did you have it in Nebraska? I haven't seen it in NYC or Southern California for at least one year.

Amy said...

I found your article as yesterday I went to a location in Wilmington DE and they said it was discontinued. I had it maybe about four months ago. I dont really like Mcdonalds but am a lunatic about the hot mustard. I too dip everything in it...burgers, fries, nuggets....and Im devastated. Ive been flipping out about it to everyone I know but nobody gets it as theyve never tried it. Ive often been told I dont actually like food, I like condiments, and without them I'd starve. Its probably true. I know its just mustard but Im so upset. Its nice to see Im not alone in my crazy.

JustinM said...

Amy, I went to McDonalds on Tuesday night for the first time in well over a year, and they had hot mustard. I bought 12 of them. (This was in Brooklyn.)

Your comment saved, I moderate all comments now since I rarely check the blog anymore. Too much spam and too many cowards writing things (that they would never say to my face) so I had to moderate.

Monty said...

I feel the same way about the Hot Mustard. It's the one thing at McDonalds that is really unique. Well, they did it. Last week was the official cut off according to my local McDonalds which is currently out of stock forever.

cakruschke@gmail.com said...

Preach it brother!!

Been eating Chicken McNuggets with Hot Mustard Sauce since - no kidding - Day 1 of Chicken McNuggets. Never had any other sauce since when you've tasted perfection, why get something else?!?! And when the kids came along, this was the only sauce they would eat too. Went to McD's yesterday and was told no Hot Mustard Sauce - EVER!!! I was aghast and the kids were near tears - had to settle for the boring normal yellow mustard instead. In my mind, this is like McD's butting the Quarter Pounder With Cheese or something - my entire dining experience is ruined. Over the lat couple years, when McD's started getting scroogy about how many packets they'd give you, I've even PAID to get more so that I have enough for both our nuggets AND all our French fries. Why would some pin head at McD's make such a stupid, short-sighted decision. Oh and not to sound bitter, but the Habanero Ranch Sauce that replaced it is completely inedible - and I like both ranch dressing and hot sauces. So they've now compounded the stupidity. GRRRRRRR!!!!!

anon said...

Feb 12 2014 McDonalds in Florida will no longer carry hot mustard.... When they told me no hot mustard not ever again... I told them i wanted my money back they could keep the nuggets cause there not nuggets without hot mustard...... The end of a great era.............

JustinM said...

Nice. Screw McDonald's. It's ridiculous that at a time when they are recording losses for the last few months (for their unnecessarily-expanded menu) they are going to stop carrying this sauce that so many people love passionately.

I wrote this post more than two and a half years ago and it STILL sometimes receives hundreds of page views per day.

Doug Johnson said...

Still got hot mustard in Gainesville, Fl. Hot mustard forever!

JustinM said...

Tom Petty, Tim Tebow, and hot mustard. Gainesville rocks.

Miss Amp said...

FML....HM is now gone in Dayton, OH. I, too, ate it on everything I could. I would order extra packets, "We'll have to charge you." My response, "AND?!?" When you find something so perfectly delicious, you WILL pay for the privilege to enjoy it. I have been a lover of the HM sauce since it's original introduction when I was a child. McDonald's seems to only be worried about the hipster crowd now(i.e. new cafe-style designs, an ever-expanding menu, etc.). As a result, they are ignoring what is arguably the core sauce that attributed to the success of the long-running McNuggets in the first place. Terribly disappointed and will never eat at McDonald's again.

JustinM said...

I wasn't thinking about then catering to hipsters as much as I was thinking they're trying to become like everyone else instead of staying McDonald's. Bacon Buffalo Ranch McChicken? Grilled Sweet Chili Chicken Premium McWrap? Who comes up with this shit? I would expect to see things like that tried at Jack in the Box from time to time, not McDonald's.

Kris said...

I guess we're just now running out in Oklahoma. I found out yesterday about this.

So sad, so sad. :'-(

The Don Q said...

At least good old eBay has them. I thought they might for one last bite.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/231172850998

JustinM said...

I have six of them left and I am rationing them like they are the last cups of water on Earth.

chris malzahn said...

I am disappointed that McDonald's got rid of the Hot Mustard sauce. It is definitely the best sauce. I had one of their employees try to tell me that the habenero sauce was "just as good" what a joke! The hot mustard was special. And I only have one container left, when it's gone no more chicken nuggets.