Let’s call a spade a spade; I was a fast food kid. Before my mother scolds me for that claim, let me clarify that we ate meals at home, too. But, you know you eat a lot of McDonald’s when you have all of the Happy Meal toys or when you can pose with your large collection of plastic Pumpkins and McBoos by the age of four. (Anyone else remember the special Happy Meal containers of the mid- to late-80’s?!) Maybe it’s because of this frequency of trips to McDonald’s, my dad’s love of sweets, or my mother’s love of holidays, but from very early on, I remember the excitement around getting a Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s around St. Patrick’s Day. It was part of how we celebrated.
When I was a sophomore in high school, I received some kind of creative writing assignment that made me think to write a letter to McDonald’s about the Shamrock Shake. (I wish I could remember the details about the assignment, but I think the intent was to write a humorous piece.) I wrote a letter to McDonald’s Office of Consumer Affairs inquiring about how exactly they made the Shamrock Shake. I wanted to be certain that they do not use real shamrocks, to understand how they make it green, etc. etc. If you can believe it, they actually responded to my ridiculous letter reassuring me at length that I had nothing to fear when consuming a Shamrock Shake. I think they even included a pamphlet with the nutritional information and ingredient list. (For those of you reading outside of the US, a Shamrock Shake is a green milkshake with a mint flavor.)
Fast forward to my time at Miami University, and I realized that my St. Patrick’s Day tradition was not so well-known. In fact, MOST of my friends at Miami had never had a Shamrock Shake. (Say WHAT?!?!?!) One year, I bought about a dozen Shamrock Shakes to take to a Game Night at a friend’s place to make sure everyone got to try the goodness! (As an aside…if you want to see a really confused look on a McDonald employee’s face, go in and order a dozen Shamrock Shakes at one time.) At that point, I realized I had some work to do in sharing the good news.
A big reason for the knowledge gap is that Shamrock Shakes weren’t sold everywhere. When we roadtripped to Florida for Spring Break in 2005, we found that we had to stop at A LOT of different McDonald’s to find one that sold Shamrock Shakes. (And of course, I encouraged everyone to try one once we found them.)
As an adult, I lived in a few different places – Nashville, St. Louis, and Grand Rapids. In some of those cities, I never did find a Shamrock Shake despite all of my best efforts. But in Grand Rapids, I found that McDonald’s sold Shamrock Shakes, but that most of the colleagues in my small office hadn’t tried one. Never fear – I showed up on St. Patrick’s Day with Shamrock Shakes for all! I still try to remember to email the group in that office on St. Patrick’s Day reminding them to have a Shamrock Shake!
A couple of years ago, McDonald’s FINALLY rolled out the Shamrock Shake to all of their US locations. Of course, they added whipped cream and a cherry, which is too fancy for me, but at least they’re easily accessible wherever I find myself around St. Patrick’s Day. This year, they added a Shamrock Chocolate Shake (which of course, I had to try), but I didn’t think it was good. No need to change a classic!
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I encourage you to go out and try a Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s. You only have a couple of days left! Just be warned…you might become
an addict a fan like me!
NOTE: McDonald’s did not incent me to write this post. I’m just that big of a fan.