Did that headline make any sense to you? If not, prepare to have your mind blown. You may not all be aware of this, but every March, McDonald’s features a limited-engagement milkshake called the Shamrock Shake. It’s a green, vaguely minty-tasting shake through which the giant corporation that’s been blamed for everything from obesity to tennis elbow shows its Scotch-Irish pride for St. Patrick’s Day.
So, did everyone know this was a thing? I actually didn’t until college, when my roommate was all “Let’s go get Shamrock Shakes!” and I was all “WHAT?!” My mom, by the way, wasn’t one of those No Fast Food Ever moms. McDonald’s and its ilk were sometimes-treats and vacation-time treats. (McDonald’s breakfast during family road trips! Can I get an “amen”?) She’s also IRISH. And I grew up on the East Coast in the 1980s, which was a hotbed of Shamrock Shake activity, so it was rather puzzling that I managed to reach my late teens without ever hearing of them.
Anyway, the internet was still in its childhood years when I was in college, so a quick Lycos search didn’t get me any closer to believing my roommate. So I needed concrete proof. My skepticism only grew as the first two McDonalds’ we visited didn’t have the Shamrock Shake. BUT! Finally, the third McDonalds was juuuuust right and served us up some cold green minty goodness. I was officially converted, and over the years I’ve found myself on my old roommate’s end of things: constantly convincing others that Shamrock Shakes are real! They’re just hard to find, for some reason. In fact, they apparently took a nearly decade-long hiatus before being brought back in the mid-2000s.
The last couple years my old coworker and I had a March tradition of making a pilgrimage to the one local McDonald’s that reliably served the shakes. Now that I’ve moved to a new city, the whole ritual feels a little empty without her. But I was still happy to see that familiar, unobtrusive little sign in my local McDonalds ““ a big relief considering I’m carless. If this one didn’t have them, I’d be SOL.
Not to mention that the internet has become bigger, deeper, and infinitely more self-aware since that St. Paddy’s over a decade ago. Now the Shamrock Shake has its own Wikipedia page, and entire websites are devoted to posting Shamrock Shake sightings. Still, “shamrock shake” only gets about 100K hits on Google. And I still meet skeptics all the time!
Apparently that oft-heard “at participating McDonalds’” really applies here. It’s weird, isn’t it, that the same fast food behemoth that seems to want to give us more than enough of everything we want shows so much restraint when it comes to the Shamrock Shake? It smacks of Girl Scout Cookies’ demand-mongering. Which is fine with me. I ain’t mad because YUM.
So. If you’ve never had a Shamrock Shake, why not check those lively Shake-spotting message boards and go try one for yourself? After all this talk I think I’m going to go have one for lunch. It’s just not March without one.