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‘Tis the Season: Shamrock Shakes

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.

Sign inside mcdonalds for shamrock shakes
What every 'Shake lover wants to see

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.

Photos: sweetlimeonline

16 replies on “‘Tis the Season: Shamrock Shakes”

Never had a Shamrock Shake but I do really enjoy the concept. I love American St Patrick’s Day!! It’s so much better than Paddy’s at home, which is just a day off work and a drunken mess (the night of the 16th is much better; no sane person stays in town after 4pm on the 17th due to the gangs of marauding drunken teenagers).

Every March the first thing I think is SHAMROCK SHAKES!! Seriously it is a problem. I’ve gotten my anti-fast food friends to partake in and subsequently addicted to them as well. If you would like to take the minty goodness to a whole new level dunk a Girl Scout Thin mint into the Shamrock Shake (WARNING this combination is extremely delicious/ possibly addictive).

A few years ago, I swore off Shamrock Shakes – I was convinced the recipe had changed and they were full of even more chemicals than usual. This year, however, I am all about them. They taste like real ice cream (well, almost). There’s a McDonald’s in my building at work and it’s a very dangerous temptation.

I had a very delicate stomach as a child. When I was about nine my mom got me a Shamrock Shake at the drive-thru and I managed to get carsick on the ride home, thus destroying my ability to enjoy a Shamrock Shake forever. Today I made vaguely mint-tasting shamrock-shaped cookies but they aren’t the same thing.

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