Kicking Back With Jersey Joe: The First Sign of Spring – McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes Are Back! Feb25

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Kicking Back With Jersey Joe: The First Sign of Spring – McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes Are Back!

You know spring is just around the corner when the granddaddy of all American fast food chains, McDonald’s rolls out their most heavenly treat – the Shamrock Shake!  How can you improve on perfection?  Oh, they’ve found a way!

Now, I know I regularly review fast food here on my blogumn, but it’s not intended to be a weekly fast food review.  In fact, McDonald’s has some of the unhealthiest food out there. Dr. Oz himself probably cringes every time one of us pulls into a drive thru.  But, sometimes you just have to let that all go and treat yourself, and that’s what the Shamrock Shake is all about.

Next to the McRib, for me the Shamrock Shake is a close second in the race to fast food heaven.  It makes its rare appearance for only a few weeks each year.  While some people look for the nearest pub to celebrate St. Patty’s Day… my thoughts and my taste buds look towards the golden arches.

Since I was a kid, I love to imbibe on this vanilla-mint goodness, and, fortunately for all of us, they’re back and better than ever!

Originally introduced in 1970, the Shamrock Shake is a vanilla-mint milk shake served at McDonald’s restaurants in medium and large sizes, starting in late February through mid-March, or until they run out.  They were available in most restaurants across the USA and Canada until the mid-90’s, but now they are more regionalized..

Growing up in Pennsylvania, we were one of the regional markets that were always treated to Shamrock Shakes this time of year, even after they were removed them from restaurants nationally.  As a kid, I remember making my mother head to the drive thru after seeing the yellow message board in front proclaiming their return.  Sadly, when I moved to the New York City area five years ago, they were not offered.  That is until last Friday, when I saw a little green advertisement on the menu board telling all they are back!

The original recipe was simple.  The ice cream mixture was the basic formula for the vanilla shake with mint syrup mixed in by the machine upon dispensing.  But for this season, they have undergone a major change.

As part of McDonald’s McCafe menu of premium coffees, frappes, and smoothies; their milkshakes have also undergone an upgrade.  The original vanilla milkshake solution is still dispensed into the cup, but the mint syrup is dropped in while serving.  The end result is a swirl of mint green in the center of the clear plastic cup.  The shake is now also topped with whipped cream and a cherry.  The treat is also more hand mixed and less mechanically mixed as in the past.

With my first sip, the syrup had not made it all the way down to the bottom of the glass, so I got a splash of the original vanilla shake.  But after about a minute of melting, the mix was complete and the full flavor was ready to go!

The presentation is really, really nice.  McDonald’s made a smart move of getting rid of the white waxy paper cup and switching in the clear plastic Solo cup.  The colors really pop and I think that they should consider switching to these cups for all of their beverages, including soft drinks.

During the 1980’s, the cups were printed with an image of Uncle O’Grimacy, a nod to their McDonaldland character Grimace.  Grimace, along with the other characters now only have a small role in the Happy Meals for kids.  Grimace used to be a staple of their company’s commercials, but he’s really taken a back seat in recent years.  Ronald McDonald, the company’s mascot has also taken on a much lesser role in the last decade.

I am so happy to say I am not the only one in love with this cup of mint goodness.  The website is devoted to loyal drinkers who post their sightings.  According to the site, it looks as though the drink is available from coast to coast.  You can buy one in California, New York, and even in a Las Vegas casino!  (Fitzgerald’s McDonald’s on Fremont Street is said to be serving it.  I think they should make it a full time menu item in their Irish themed casino!)

However, there is no mention of the shakes at all on the McDonald’s corporate website.

For those who sadly cannot enjoy a Shamrock Shake from their local McDonald’s, I have two options for you.  First, a good substitute that I have used for years is the Edy’s Peppermint ice cream available during Christmas.  It’s a bit of a different mint flavor, and i’t’s red, having been infused with those Brach’s peppermint Starlight mints.  The same ones our grandmothers would have melting for years in their kitchen candy jars.

Secondly, I found a recipe online that might work as well:

2 cups vanilla ice cream

1 ¼ cups low fat milk

¼ teaspoon mint extract

8 drops green food coloring

Mix all of those up in a blender and there you have it.  Let me know if it works.  If it doesn’t turn out the way you like, you can always add a little rum and transform it into a tasty adult beverage.

THE 411

What: McDonald’s Shamrock Shake

Where: served at most McDonald’s restaurants coast to coast for a limited time through March.

Cost: $3.19 for a large plus tax in New York City

Calories: 860 (based on a large Strawberry McCafe Shake, which are prepared in the same way)

JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS: Definitely treat yourself to one as part of your St. Patrick’s Day celebration.  I know they are not the healthiest item on the planet, but everyone deserves a treat once in a while.  Remember, if they sell well, McDonald’s will return them to the menu again next year.  I know I will have a few.  Not only are they incredibly tasty and refreshing, but they’re also a part of my childhood that I’m glad to see return this year.  Plus, they are the first sure sign that our long winter is finally coming to an end.