Life sure is weird. You just don’t know what will happen next, do you? One day you survive consuming the Grimace Shake, where many unfortunate victims have fallen to the adorable purple mascot, another day you start reviewing a series of official McDonald’s Manga illustrated by Acky Bright, and the next you’re feeling like Itadori Yuji eating one of Sukuna’s delectable fingers within the heart of New York City. So let’s rewind a bit.

The Special Grade Garlic Arc

On July 1st, 2024, people noticed on Twitter that McDonald’s page banner and user icon changed to images based off the hit anime/manga series, Jujutsu Kaisen. The giveaway is the new account bio which simply states “Welcome to my Malevolent Kitchen.” Right away people suspect a possible JJK/McDonald’s collaboration is happening soon.

That confirmation would arrive later that day with a tweet from the official McDonald’s twitter that says “Something SPECIALZ is coming text me at +1 (707) 932-4826 to be the first to know“. This is in reference to the King Gnu song SPECIALZ which acts as the opening theme for the Shibuya Incident Arc in the Jujutsu Kaisen anime which aired months ago.

The following day on July 2nd it was officially announced that the Special Grade Garlic Sauce will drop on July 9th, 2024. Starting the JJK/McDonald’s collaboration event. This comes roughly 5 months after their previous Anime/Manga-themed collab in the United States being the WcDonald’s campaign involving new chapters of an official WcDonald’s Manga releasing weekly alongside 30 second anime mini-sodes animated by Studio Pierrot to promote the then limited time only savory chili WcDonald’s sauce.

So what is the Special Grade Garlic Sauce being promoted during this collaboration? Like the WcDonald’s sauce, the Special Grade Garlic Sauce is a limited time purchase only available through the McDonald’s app (odd decision), and you cannot ask for it over the counter or order from the Kiosk in the restaurant.

The Special Sauce is named after the song SPECIALZ and is based on the Black Garlic aioli in Japan. It is a Garlic sauce created by aging the raw garlic bulbs into a mild, sweet, slightly molasses/balsamic-like black garlic. It is a sauce that can be used in a variety of ways from spreading, dipping, or even combining it with other sauces and foods to enhance or enrich with a slightly sweet and tender flavor.

In collaboration with McDonald’s, the Special Grade Garlic Sauce comes in 8 different package designs with various Jujutsu Kaisen characters from Itadori Yuji to the iconic Nobara Kugisaki (I miss you so much!).

Sadly there is no Jujutsu Kaisen Happy Meal toys to collect, so if you’re an avid collector then you’ll mostly end up collecting all 8 packages of the Black Garlic sauce instead to store for bragging rights or to take out and open for a special occasion, like when you have guests over and you don’t have any fine china to dine on. The packaging doesn’t have any expiration date printed on it, so it could be due to the process of creating the Black Garlic sauce through aging and fermenting the garlic, it could theoretically have a longer shelf life if stored under proper conditions. 

A picture of all 8 Jujutsu Kaisen McDonald's sauce packets. The labeling looks mostly the same except for the color of the top stripe and the characters shown.
All 8 Jujutsu Kaisen McDonald’s Packets. Same sauce, different labeling.

Yummy Yummy Fingers

Cut to July 8th, and The Beat was invited to a media-only tasting experience in NYC. It was located within the McDonald’s on 42nd street and 8th Avenue on the second floor, just across the street from the Port authority Bus Terminal.

There, those who were invited were given the opportunity to try out the Special Grade Garlic Sauce the day before the official launch in McDonald’s country-wide. At the tasting experience those in attendance would be given a plate with various ingredients from McDonald’s to create 4 menu creations featuring the new sauce.

Also present at the event was the food filmmaker/Anime food show host Alvin Zhou who would instruct us how to create these menu creations based off recipes put together by McDonald’s master chefs. These 4 menu creations are as follows:

  • McCrispy with Special Grade Garlic Sauce (Crispy Chicken fillet + Lettuce + Mayonnaise + 1 packet of Special Grade Garlic Sauce + Potato Roll Burger Buns)
  • Loaded Fries with Special Grade Garlic Sauce (McDonald’s Fries + Mayonnaise + 1 packet of Special Grade Garlic Sauce + Diced Onions + Diced Pickles)
  • McDouble with Special Grade Garlic Sauce (2 Burger Patties + 1 packet of Special Grade Garlic Sauce + Mayonnaise + McDonald’s Fries + Dices Onions + Diced Pickles)
  • Mixin’ McNuggets (4 piece Chicken McNuggets + 1 Packet of Honey + 1 packet of Special Grade Garlic Sauce)
Various McDonald's ingredients accompanied with the Special grade Garlic Sauce next to an empty plate to create the menu items at the DOY tasting event.
I honestly felt overwhelmed seeing all of this food and ingredients. It’s so surreal!

Alvin was really fun to have around and guide us in creating the meals. I am usually a picky eater as food has to look, smell, and taste good for me to enjoy it.

If it fails the smell or taste check, then I am going to have an uncomfortable time enjoying my meal. But surprisingly the Special Grade Garlic Sauce added a nice mildly sweet zing! to the food, and even had me enjoy diced onions and pickles? pickles especially?! The sauce really does work best as something to add or mix into the food rather than be treated solely as a dipping sauce for your food.

standing in front of the Special Grade Tasting Experience banner is the anime food filmmaker/YouTuber Alvin Zhou. The Host of the event.
Our talented and charming host, Alvin Zhou. The highlight of the experience.

So how does the Special Grade Sauce taste on its own? You’ll taste a strong zesty garlic flavor which is then followed by a sweet aftertaste accompanied by a pleasant tingle on the tongue due to the Garlic sauce, herbs, and slight sugar used to create the Special Grade Garlic Sauce.

I like to imagine it as how Sukuna’s fingers taste, which is probably how Yuji is able to consume several of them. It works as a dipping sauce, but as mentioned prior, it really shines when used as a condiment to enhance the flavors of sandwiches, fries, and other meals. So get creative with how you plan to use the sauce with your food even outside of McDonald’s.

At the event, attendees would be also given McDonald’s Jujutsu Kaisen cards. One per person it seems, however this will not be available if you order the sauce through the app or by any other means. So if you want these cards you’ll probably have to look for them online in the future if someone wishes to part with it if you’re lucky.

However, each purchase will give you a 30-day free trial of a Crunchyroll subscription. So you can enjoy a host of anime and other shows available on the platform along with a delicious sauce for your meal if it is any consolidation for the only reason to collect them all being just the different packaging.

The cards on the bottom which are available at the media only event.

Closing Thoughts

So what are my thoughts on all of this? Tasting event aside, the JJK/McDonald’s collaboration had potential to do more asides from acting as a Crunchyroll advertisement and bringing a delicious new sauce to utilize.

A collab such as this should have given more reason for consumers to be invested asides from the different packaging for the garlic sauce. Younger consumers might not be as interested in collecting each different sauce packet or be as enthusiastic about getting a 30-day Crunchyroll subscription.

At least with the WcDonald’s campaign there were anime minisodes and a weekly comic to look forward to on the official WcDonald’s website which can even be physically purchased in select comic book stores.

Here, there isn’t even Happy Meal toys of your favorite JJK characters to collect and display. This takes away the experience of going to a McDonald’s to collect them all at stores for anime fans, JJK enthusiasts, Toy collectors, and even just for younger kids to have a new toy to play with alongside the potential to introduce them to Jujutsu Kaisen and anime in the future.

The aforementioned cards were the only thing of note but that was an event only item. A missed opportunity in my opinion, as I grew up in the good ol’ days (god I feel old) where McDonald’s had these cool tie-in Happy Meal toys where it was worth collecting as many as you can, like the Extremely Goofy Movie toys (which create an arena) or Spy Kids 2 toys (where getting them all combines into a cool robot bug).

The 2003 Spy Kids 2 McDonald’s toys. (image credit:

The biggest downside to this collaboration is making the sauce be exclusive only on the McDonald’s app. Meaning if you wanted to order the sauce without having the app on your mobile devices, you are out of luck from getting to experience the Special Grade Garlic Sauce.

For comparison, with the WcDonald’s sauce and even the legendary Grimace Shake, you can order that at participating McDonald’s restaurants at the cashier or on the kiosk at that time. So only time will tell how many people will be aware of or even be able to order this limited time item.

So I now pass the question onto you. What do you think about the Jujustu Kaisen Special Grade Garlic Sauce and the collaboration between McDonald’s? Does it interest you? Do you look forward to trying out the sauce? Feel free to let us know down in the comments below!

You can order a packet of the Jujutsu Kaisen Special Grade Garlic Sauce for a limited time from the McDonald’s app as of July 9th, 2024! Don’t forget to also claim your free 30-day trial for Crunchyroll to access even more anime and shows to enjoy.

Also feel free to subscribe to Alvin Zhou’s YouTube channel and even his Instagram if you are a lover of food and anime.

You can also read our WcDonald’s coverage right here on The Beat!

As always, until next time my adorable birb nerds! Keep cool and stay hydrated!

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