Jersey Joe is Addicted to Shamrock Shakes [Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Mar16

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Jersey Joe is Addicted to Shamrock Shakes [Kicking Back with Jersey Joe]

You know you’ve got a hit product on your hands when loyal customers flock to Twitter and Facebook shouting with glee when it’s back! McDonald’s has that kind of hit with their glorious Shamrock Shakes. As soon as it reappears, fans are all over social media sharing their joy at the first sip. But this year, on my first attempt – I got shot down.

Last March, I did an extensive blogumn on the history of the Shamrock Shake. But for the first time in decades, McDonald’s has officially placed them on sale in all locations coast to coast and is even backing them up with a big budget TV ad!

McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes are available in three sizes: child small, medium and large. The seasonal milkshake treat is made with low-fat vanilla ice cream, mint flavoring, optional whipped cream and an optional cherry. They are a limited-time menu item, usually starting sometime in February. The green milkshake underwent a major upgrade last year with the addition of optional whipped cream and cherry. They then joined the McCafe line of upscale beverages. It is also now served in a clear plastic cup, which allows the beautiful green color to be seen, as opposed to the solid wax cups of old.

The child’s small is 12 ounces with 540 calories, the adult medium 16 ounces with 680 calories, and the adult large 22 ounces with 840 calories.

Growing up in Pennsylvania, these were always on sale during March and as soon as I would see the signs or the old Uncle McGrimmacy commercial, I insisted on heading for the drive-thru.

Originally available coast to coast, McDonald’s scaled back sales in the 1990’s to make this more of a regional item. When I moved to the New York City metro area years ago, I was saddened to see they were not for sale. It would require a several hour road trip to Pennsylvania, or visit friends in South New Jersey, just to have one.  (That’s a blatant lie – knowing I couldn’t get them where I live, I would usually cram in many more than one.)

On a random weeknight in late February last year, I was exiting the PATH train station. When I got to the top of the escalator, I saw a green sign hanging in the window of the nearby McDonald’s. I couldn’t believe it! I immediately ran across the street and sure enough, they were on sale! Thus, began my season of Shamrock Shakes. My friends were kept an informal tally of just how many I had. Care to guess? You’ll be surprised!

You could also say that I was on a quest to increase sales enough to bring these back again. Maybe in my own small way, I succeeded!

Sales of the milkshakes last until shortly after St. Patrick’s Day, when each restaurant exhausts their supply.  Most McDonald’s in New York City were out of them fairly quickly. But, the McDonald’s at the Grove Street PATH station in Jersey City joyously had them on the menu almost to the Fourth of July!  Yes, friends – June was quite a refreshing month!

The year ticked by and the world didn’t come to an end as predicted, then suddenly it’s 2012!  (By the way, is time flying by as super fast for you as it is for me?)

On January 31st, while skimming Facebook, I saw a friend’s post exclaiming they had seen a Shamrock Shake ad in front of a restaurant in Pittsburgh. I grabbed some co-workers and we were off to the McDonald’s at 1286 1st Avenue on New York’s Upper East Side. Sure enough, they had the same new ad posted on their menu board and I happily skipped in.

The restaurant was not too busy, so quickly I was at the front counter.  Here’s exactly how the exchange went:

Server: “Can I help you?”

Me: “A number one and a large Shamrock Shake, please.”

Server: “No ice cream.”

Me: “What?”

Server: “No ice cream.”

I was crushed… shot down without even a “Sorry.”.  In fact, the guy kind of stood there starting at me like I had tentacles flying out of my face.  This McDonald’s loves to have days when they just won’t turn on their ice cream machine at lunch. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone in there on a hot summer day for a shake and they don’t have any ice cream. Plus, this place is usually confusing chaos at lunchtime.

I may have been dejected, but not defeated… I remembered how the Grove Street PATH McDonald’s was on the ball last year. Again, I rode up the escalator, but didn’t see a sign. That was until I got closer to the door and they had tons of posters plastered to the walls!

Here’s how this exchange went:

Server: “Hi Welcome to McDonald’s, may I take your order?”

Me: “Do you have any Shamrock Shakes.” (Obviously playing dumb since flyers were all over the wall behind her.)

Server: “We certainly do.”

Me: “I’ll take the largest one you have!”

Server: “Would you like whipped cream and a cherry on that?”

Me: “Most definitely!”

And happily, I vanished off into the night, Tweeting away my happiness.

The next day, I talked my co-workers into trying another Upper East Side location, next to Bloomingdale’s. Walking in, there were no signs at all and I feared I led them on another quest of the damned. Here’s how that exchange went:

Server: “Welcome to McDonald’s, can I take your order?”

Me: “I’ll take a number six and do you have Shamrock Shakes?”

Server: (she looks toward her manager) “Do we have Shamrock Shakes?”

Manager: (to me) “We just got them.”

Server: “Which button do I push?”

I so wanted to scream “special shake!”  But, I let the manager help her with that.

Once the three of us started ordering, other customers did too, and they were flying out the door! You’re welcome, McDonald’s for the upsales!

So, here we are again and my addiction and love for these mint cups of joy is stronger than ever! I’m on my way to breaking last year’s record of shakes consumed.

This year, McDonald’s is giving them a push with a brand new commercial campaign. Before now, there hadn’t been a Shamrock Shake commercial in decades! Large posters are also proudly posted in all of their restaurants.

Hopefully, McDonald’s will keep that “special shake” button handy on their registers and perhaps bring back the fourth rotating milkshake flavor to their menus on a more permanent basis.  In the late 90’s, all restaurants in the chain would proudly feature a special fourth flavor shake such as: Pumpkin, Candy Cane, Lemon, Egg Nog, Blueberry, Peach, Orange, and more.  While some locations still may do this, a nice nationwide rollout would be great!

And the best news of all for this year – McDonald’s seems to have lowered the price a bit. From $3.19 last year to $2.79 this year for a large!

So, see what everyone’s talking about, what’s fueling my addiction, and what Pittsburgh DJ’s are rapping about… Shamrock Shakes, available for a limited time!

THE 411

Name: Shamrock Shakes

What: mint milkshakes

Where: sold at McDonald’s restaurants coast-to-coast

Cost: $2.29 for a small and $2.79 for a large in the New York City metro area

Calories: 540 with 16g of fat (child small size) 840 with 24g of fat (adult large)


It is St. Patrick’s Day weekend, so run on out and get yourself one of these treats!  Sure, they’re not for the health conscious, but an occasional indulgence won’t hurt anyone. If you have the extra calories, do a little extra walking and burn them off! If your group is out partying with green adult beverages this weekend, give your designated driver a free shamrock shake – because there’s no excuse for booze behind the wheel.

But, refresh yourself while you can, because when they sell out for the season – they’re gone!

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