So far my Shamrock Shake trilogy here on So Good has managed to enlighten you on the mass hysteria and pop culture excitement a certain mint shake brings to the table when it makes its seasonal run through McDonald’s in North America, and of course much to their stereotypical profiling chagrin; Ireland.
Today I’m taking you to school with the Shamrock Shake time line. This is much cheaper than taking that Community College course offering a detailed look at the power a seafoam green cup of iced milk has over the fast food loving populace. If anything, at least one of these facts should help you win a free round of beer at a Pub Trivia night. If so, I’ve done my job and this has all been worthwhile.
Before we get into the officially recognized McHistory, there is one conspiracy theory laced story that predates the House of Ronald’s books. Fact or Fiction, it’s something Mickey D’s soundly refutes every year since the S.S. Delicious was christened.
Harold Rosen, a McDonalds franchisee in Connecticut with a background in dairy manufacturing has repeatedly claimed to have invented the Shamrock in 1966 with assistance from an individual named “Bridie Flannery.” Hey, if you’re gonna Irish up a shake, it’s best to have a Flannery in your corner.
The Shamrock was first introduced at the McDonald’s in 1970 (back when smiles were noted on the menu board as being free) When it debuted it was called the “St. Patrick’s Day Green Milkshake”. I’d give anything to have been a fly on the wall for that Mad Menish pitch. Ad execs quickly scrambled for a catchier moniker to trademark and thus the Shamrock Shake rose from the ashes of its short lived, clunkier named predecessor.
Did you know that Ronald McDonald House has the Shamrock Shake to thank for it’s existence? In your face McRib! Back in 1974, the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles worked with Mickey D’s to sell Shamrocks in the “City of Brotherly Love” as a fundraiser to buy a home near the local Children’s’ Hospital as temporary housing for families who had kids being treated there. Enough of the minty green shakes were sold to purchase the home that became the first Ronald McDonald House, of which there are 300+ running today.
Since it’s official inception in 1970, there have been over sixty million Shamrock Shakes served.
Oddly, if you look for the flavor description for the Shamrock Shake it’s not stated on the menu, nor is it listed in the ingredients. McDonald’s continues calling it a “Mystery”, much like whatever happened to the Fry Guys or why they can’t triple the special sauce on my Big Mac. To recreate a taste profile doppelganger in the comfort of your own home, blend 2 parts vanilla ice cream to one part Mint Scope.
In 1977, Grimace’s Uncle O’Grimacey sheleighleigh’d his way into our hearts as the official harbringer of the Shamrock Shake season. Hailing from Ireland (‘natch) his emerald fur & decidedly over the top Irish accent was tolerated by the residents of McDonaldland each year when he made the annual pilgrimage across the pond. Shortly after his first appearance, Uncle O’G went missing from place-mats & novelty tumblers. Unlike his Irish milkshake he was never to be seen or mentioned again. His legacy remains with us in his minty recipe and creepy purple Nephew.
For anyone who can remember the ‘Shamrock Sundae” back in 1980, you can recall the sinister green minty slime enveloping McDonald’s beloved soft serve ice cream. This menu offering was retired almost as soon at it debuted, lasting one St Patrick’s Day selling season.
Sadly the The Shamrock Shake disappeared from many McDonald’s locations between the 1990′s and 2000′s driving up the demand and internet fervor. When Corporate gave Regional Managers the power to thumbs up or down the Shamrock selling season, a decision was made by many to pass. Much infuriated blogging did ensue on the internet.
In 2010, The Shamrock Shake received a McCafe face lift. In appearance, and in according to many, taste. Gone were the quaint paper cups which we were used to, replaced by see through plastic which now showed off the almost neon tinged shade of the Shamrock. Also, the shake went upscale and is now pimped out with whipped cream and cherry perched on top. Purists have also complained that the flavor mix has shifted to a decidedly more vanilla taste as opposed to the signature mint.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our trip down milkshake lane. Next week I am test driving the Shamrock Shake as my final entry for the trilogy*. I may even ask them to pour mine into a paper soda cup and enjoy mine naked. That being without the whipped cream & cherry.
Uncle O’Grimacey would be proud.
*Don’t worry, there won’t be any Ewoks.