Shamrock Shakes

Shamrock Shakes and Shenanigans

St. Patty’s Day is tomorrow and you know what that means? Shamrock Shakes at McDonalds! The Shamrock Shake was created in that fertile time called the 1970s and it was a beverage born not of corporate greed, but to help those in need (and corporate greed). Here is an excerpt from the Ronald McDonald House website. It explains why they created Shamrock Shakes.

The Hills knew that there had to be a solution. Fred rallied the support of his Eagles teammates to raise funds. Through Jim Murray, the Eagles’ general manager, the team offered its support to Dr. Audrey Evans, head of the pediatric oncology unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Evans dreamed of a comfortable temporary residence for families of children being treated at her hospital.

Murray enlisted Don Tuckerman from the local McDonald’s advertising agency, who with the support of McDonald’s Regional Manager Ed Rensi, launched the St. Patrick’s Day Green Milkshake (now known as the Shamrock Shake) promotion. Funds raised went toward purchasing an old house located near the hospital.

Pretty cool huh. Of course I mostly remember these shakes because of commercials starring Uncle O’Grimacey (the green Irish uncle of our favorite purple shake eating monster)

McDonald’s Uncle O’Grimacey Shamrock Shake Commercial

And of course this highbrow lesson in Irish Culture.

Surely he had traveled to many fine establishments before he found a beverage that was as “refreshing as a spring breeze”. Note: In a sequel to this commercial a tiny leprechaun hopped out of the shake machine and challenged all Finnegans present to fight.

The Search is on for Shamrock Shakes


We have 4 McDonalds in the immediate neighborhood, so the other day I walked to the closest one and found they don’t carry them. I was sad, but not surprised, and moved on the next McDonalds. I hit all 4 and got nothing. Now I remembered liking these minty shakes, and when the day began I was just “looking forward” to having one. But now that the universe sought to deny me that which I was rightfully entitled to consume, I NEEDED a Shamrock Shake. Which could only mean one thing.

Road Trip!

Now a logical person would of course call around to various McDonalds. Confirm that they have Shamrock Shakes before speeding off in their Honda for parts unknown. If you have been reading this blog, you might know, I am not a logical person. I prefer the mystery of the quest. Their are hundreds of McDonalds in the immediate area and each one I stopped at looked at me like I was insane. “Shamrock Shakes”, they said, “What’s that?”

I thought that unlike the McRib, the smooth cool green wouldn’t be too hard to find. Wrong! It took 2 hours, 60 miles and 4 orders of large fries before I hit minty pay dirt. This simple little sign that had been hung from the menu board was a sight for sore eyes.

Finally I find my Shamrock Shake


Note:  When you start taking multiple photos of the McDonalds Menu Board people will look at you funny

Note: When you start taking multiple photos of the McDonalds Menu Board people will look at you funny

I ordered a large shake, ran to the first flat surface I could find and cracked it open.

shamrock2.jpg

It’s actually kind of cool looking before you stir it up. Count those rings of flavor!

shamrock3.jpg

As for the tasting? It’s thick and minty with maybe a hint of vanilla and just as good as I remember. I like to dip my fries into my vanilla milkshakes and figured I would give mint a try. I was not grossed out, but I wouldn’t call it a taste sensation either. Well I am sold! I am going to get another one tonight and another one tomorrow to celebrate the greenest of days. If they kept these shakes all year long I might have to look into a new career to get a discount.

To find Shamrock Shakes in your area call ahead to your local McDonald’s.

The Shamrock Sundae


Back in 1980 McDonald experiments with the Shamrock Sundae. It didn’t sell as well as the Shamrock shake so they let it go the way of Crystal Pepsi. It pretty much was just vanilla ice cream with mint syrup, but oh what a syrup! The mintiest of the minty mints. Delicious beyond description.

McDonald’s Shamrock Sundae Commercial

If you were lucky enough to a Shamrock Sundae in that short period during 1980, odds are you have been craving it ever sense. To get a similar taste sensation may I make a suggestion.

Homemade Shamrock Sundae

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Garry Vander Voort

Editor/Podcaster at Retroist
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9 thoughts on “Shamrock Shakes and Shenanigans

  1. WOW. Wow, wow… Shamrock Sundae? Amazing! I’ve been on a madhunt the last few months looking for any evidence that McDonald’s had a mint/peppermint sundae at some point and now I have it!

    Although I recall green mint and red peppermint syrups around Christmastime, but hey, at least I know for a fact it happened!

  2. Glad we share the same memories. I loved these things in their brief run. Also I dropped by your site. Great stuff. I am adding a link in my links section.

  3. Ryan says:

    I love that you can dig up all of those old McDonaldland commercials. That podcast is what got me hooked to the blog.

  4. The wife and I had our first experience with this minty concoction the other day. I’m not big on McD’s shakes, but it was pretty darn tastey (and not too minty.) The handful of stores by us had no signage for the shake and when we asked we did get blank states for a second before a more seasoned employee told the cashier that it was the “special shake”, and it was.

  5. Badwolf says:

    I’ve never had a Shamrock Shake. We didn’t go to McDonald’s all that much and back then, I was all about the chocolate shake (still am, but I digress). They were heavily promoted where we lived, and I know my brother Tom used to go with his friends to McDonald’s for the sole purpose of scoring a Shamrock Shake. It just wasn’t my scene, but I appreciate the memories and the quest. I will be going to a meeting at McDonald’s this morning, and will report my findings.

  6. Badwolf says:

    Evidently, they started selling them about a week ago, and have sold out, so there are none available in the greater Phoenix area.

  7. Sorry to hear that Badwolf. They do have a dedicated fanbase and this year it seemed particularly rabid. Still kind of lame to not have any on the day that it is celebrating :(

  8. GrandPunkTrainwreck says:

    Great post & while I remember the big deal when they were introduced, I didn’t know the origins of them until reading this. Thanks!! And I’m such a huge Shamrock Shake fan that, though I’m not normally a fast food eater, I had my husband get me 2 of them while the gettin’s good. :)

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