Fact Check

Did an Iowa Man Call in a False Bomb Threat to McDonald's Over Dipping Sauces?

Robert Golwitzer Jr. was arrested in June 2021, after what news reports claimed was a dispute over a Chicken McNuggets order.

Published Jul 1, 2021

28 June 2019, Berlin: A cardboard box with Chicken McNuggets, McChicken Burger, a beverage cup with a soft drink, a bag with tomato ketchup and French fries. The fast food chain McDonald's wants to produce less plastic waste. For example, desserts are to be sold in the course of the coming year in more sustainable packaging "almost without plastic". Already this year plastic holders for balloons would be abolished, McDonald's announced. From 2021 they will no longer be allowed to be sold in the EU - as will disposable cutlery and plates and plastic straws. Photo: Gerald Matzka/dpa-Zentralbild/ZB (Photo by Gerald Matzka/picture alliance via Getty Images) (Gerald Matzka/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Image Via Gerald Matzka/picture alliance via Getty Images
Robert Golwitzer Jr. of Ankeny, Iowa, called in a false bomb threat to a local McDonald's because he was angry his Chicken McNuggets order came without dipping sauces.

In the summer of 2021, several news outlets carried reports that a man in Iowa had called in a fake bomb threat to a local McDonald's restaurant because he was angry that his Chicken McNuggets came without any dipping sauce.

For example, on June 28 the Des Moines NBC affiliate WHO-TV reported that:

An Ankeny man was arrested Saturday after police say he threatened to blow up a McDonald’s because the restaurant didn’t include dipping sauce for his chicken McNuggets.

Sgt. Corey Schneden with the Ankeny Police Department tells WHO 13 that 42-year-old Robert Golwitzer Jr. called the McDonald’s at 2526 SW State St. in Ankeny around 5:20 p.m. Saturday after discovering his order was incorrect. In the call, Golwitzer allegedly threatened to blow up the restaurant and punch an employee.

Similar articles were published by KTVU and iHeart Radio, and the gossip website TMZ reported that a different Ankeny Police Department source, Lt. Rob Kovacs, had told them Golwitzer was angered by the alleged omission of sauce from his chicken nuggets order.

Golwitzer was arrested on June 26, and has been charged with making a false report about an incendiary device, which is a Class D felony in Iowa. The criminal complaint against him asserts that Golwitzer admitted the alleged offenses when he was interviewed by police. However, Golwitzer has not yet entered a plea in this case, as of July 1, nor has he been tried or convicted. As such, we are issuing a rating of "Unproven." When the case is resolved, we will update this fact check accordingly. 

Snopes has not yet been able to obtain official or on-the-record evidence or testimony to corroborate the most colorful detail in the many news reports about Golwitzer's case — that he allegedly made the false bomb threat because he was outraged that his Chicken McNuggets order came without dipping sauces. It's clearly a remarkable claim, and one that requires close examination. 

The criminal complaint, filed by the Polk County Attorney on June 27, and obtained by Snopes, does not contain those details, but rather includes the following sworn statement by Ankeny police officer Nicole DePrez:

On or about the aforementioned date and time, at 2526 SW State St in Ankeny in the county of Polk [the address of the McDonald's restaurant], the defendant did knowingly, intentionally and unlawfully falsely threaten to detonate an explosive device.

The victim reported a phone call threatening to "blow up" the above address from a phone number associated with the defendant. officers contacted the phone number and spoke with the defendant, who identified himself. The defendant admitted to officers via phone call and in-person, post-Minanda, he had called the victim and made threats.

Prosecutors have charged Golwitzer with violating Chapter 712.7 of the Iowa Code, which states that:

A person who, knowing the information to be false, conveys or causes to be conveyed to any person any false information concerning the placement of any incendiary or explosive device or material or other destructive substance or device in any place where persons or property would be endangered commits a class “D” felony.

Under Iowa law, a Class D felony carries a maximum potential prison sentence of five years, and a fine of between $1,025 and $10,245. 

The articles published by WHO-TV and TMZ did not contain direct quotations from either Sgt. Corey Schneden or Lt. Rob Kovacs, respectively. Nor did they contain any documentary evidence to support the specific claim that Golwitzer had allegedly made the false bomb threat over Chicken McNugget dipping sauces. 

For that reason, Snopes contacted the Ankeny Police Department in an effort to obtain on-the-record confirmation of that detail, as well as the claim that Golwitzer had threatened to punch a McDonald's employee, and to request a copy of Golwitzer's arrest or incident report.

A staff member in the records division told Snopes, confusingly, that because an arrest had been made, the case was not public record. They also claimed they could not give out details about ongoing cases. When we pointed out that Schneden had already done exactly that, we were transferred to Schneden's voicemail. He was on leave and therefore unable to respond to our inquiries. 

Snopes sent Ankeny Police Chief Darius Potts a list of questions relating to the case, and requested a copy of the arrest or incident report. We did not receive any response in time for publication, and Potts did not answer a phone call, or respond to a text message from Snopes. 

As a result, good quality, official evidence is so far lacking in respect of the remarkable claim that Golwitzer allegedly made the false bomb threat because he was angry about his Chicken Mcnuggets order. 

According to Iowa court records, Golwitzer is scheduled to be arraigned on Aug. 9, 2021. 

Dan Mac Guill is a former writer for Snopes.