The Big Problem Some People Have With Raising Cane's

Two years ago, an irate customer took the obvious step towards assuaging their raging disappointment and published a petition on The problem addressed is that Raising Cane's, a fast-food chain that serves chicken fingers, does not include BBQ sauce as a possible side. The text concludes, "I am starting this petition to get the attention of the powers to be to start offering the greatest, most satisfying and delicious BBQ sauce." As of writing, 66 out of a desired 100 have signed. Those are the stakes.

While it is rather easy to brush off such a small number of complaints, it's worth noting that there has been a consistent simmering of grumbles for years. A glancing on Twitter for ranch or BBQ sauce with Raising Cane's quickly unearths isolated cases of gnashed teeth. "Why doesn't Raising Cane's have ranch? C'mon give the people what they want," one person opined in 2020. At the opposite end of the decade, another floated the following: "So where is raising canes bbq sauce...just wondering." 

Neither of these tweets, the petition, nor any other stray document bemoaning Raising Cane's menu represents a mob. However, as one person on Twitter shared in 2016, customers were leaving bottles behind for their brethren deprived of BBQ sauce. Similarly, the OP for a discussion about the company's dearth of sauce options on the subreddit for the Doughboys podcast admitted to bringing their own sauces. So, Raising Cane's is obviously not stopping anyone. This opens a straightforward, albeit inconvenient solution.

Why would Raising Cane's go through the bother?

One might wonder why Raising Cane's would bother going through the effort of not providing other sauces. Perhaps it is simple brand obstinance, like Taco Bell's insistence to solve their ecological footprint by suggesting an overly complicated sauce packet recycling system.

The closest Raising Cane's has gotten to issuing an official answer is on the "Concept" section of its website where it states that its limited menu means the brand can serve food fast and of good quality. If that is indeed its goal, it meets the approval of its fanbase. In the aforementioned subreddit discussion, pretty much all agreed that the special sauce Raising Cane's serves is all the brand really needs: "To me everything at Raising Cane's is a vehicle for that special sauce." So, the chain is a case of hyperfocus on the one thing at which it excels, to the chagrin of any who refuses to compromise. 

Yes, Raising Cane's admits in its FAQs to selling honey mustard, and when specifically asked, hot sauce. However, the chicken finger and Raising Cane's sauce combo that fills the entirety of its menu serves as the point of the brand, a point with which people may or may not engage as they will. On Raising Cane's terms, it has succeeded as its sauce came third in Thrillist's 2020 ranking of the best fast food dipping sauces. Only Chick-fil-A's special sauce and Culver's cheese sauce beat them. But then again, neither of them are really in competition with Raising Cane's. 

But what makes Raising Cane's sauce so special?

As per the definition of a secret sauce, Raising Cane's secret sauce is — surprise — a secret. However, like all other alluring secret sauce formulae, Raising Cane's has inspired people to replicate the taste with their own "copycats."

Food Fanatic recommends whipping together mayonnaise, ketchup, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper. So does Spoon University. The emerging picture, then, is a creamy BBQ sauce with more of a kick.

Both of these so-called copycat recipes have probably ripped their recipes from the list leaked by a fired worker in 2015. According to a Fox News report, the worker tweeted out the same ingredients as the two copycat recipes boast. The company went on damage control, explaining to whoever would listen that the fired worker would not have known what the recipe was as only general managers were privy to such things.

The reason why one should give this worker's claim some credence, however, is that in a separate piece about fry sauce, Eater learned that many people who try fry sauce confuse it with Raising Cane's sauce, despite the latter having more heat. Two of the major ingredients in fry sauce are mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce, which could be where the confusion arises. So, the leaked recipe seems real.

With the secret known, perhaps Raising Cane's would be better off offering BBQ and ranch to customers to supplement profits lost to those making copycat sauces at home.