You don't see the Shamrock Shake advertised as heavily now as it was in the 1980s and 1990s. It used to be a big thing, with ads trumpeting its release up to a month ahead of time. Now, some 20 or 30 years later, a lot of people have apparently forgotten about it. But not a core group of fans, myself among them.
The Shamrock Shake is still available at select locations. The trick is to find these locations. And then, if you are a kind and decent person, to share them with others. Enter a series of websites devoted to locating Shamrock Shakes. The best of these is ShamrockShake.com, although I wish it was either integrated with Google Maps or sorted by town. Maybe one day I will get around to building my own Shamrock Shake Finder website. (Maybe!)
The Shamrock Shake is experiencing something of a resurgence, at least here in Washington. I remember going on the hunt around 2004, and finding only ONE McDonalds in the entirety of King County which carried the shakes. (The one just up the street from University Village.) Now, if reports are to be believed, you can't throw a rock without hitting a Shamrock Shake. Other states are not so lucky.
What accounts for the Shamrock Shake mystique? It surely can't be that horrible color, the palest shade of green which is just this side of "sickly." In fact, maybe it's best you don't look at the shake, frankly.
Many people find the flavor somewhat elusive. It definitely isn't a very strong flavor, for which we should probably be thankful. When told it's "mint," a lot of people react with "Ew!" But think of it this way: it's like mint chocolate chip ice cream, but without the chocolate chips.
I know that sounds weird. Just trust me on this one.
I grew up in Anchorage Alaska in the 1980s, when there were about two dozen McDonalds in the greater Anchorage area. I remember one year in high school, one of my friends set himself a lofty goal: to get a Shamrock Shake from every McDonalds in town. Considering he only had a month (the shakes are only available from March 1st to March 31st), this meant that he had to eat at McDonalds almost every day.
Dude REALLY liked Shamrock Shakes.
He came pretty close to hitting his goal, if memory serves. But I remember that by the third week of March, he had developed an alarmingly pasty complexion. Not too different from the color of a Shamrock Shake, actually. I don't think he quite made it, but he definitely gave it his all.
Think you can do better? Find a Shamrock Shake near you, and give it a try!
Photo credit: Flickr/gordasm