Would you brave 70 mph wind gusts and flooded streets in search of a limited-edition McDonald’s Shamrock Shake? Well, that depends on whether you land on the “pro” side of the annual — and polarizing — fast food debate. If you do, you’re in luck. McDonald’s has an app for that.
Not all locations serve the special shake. In an attempt to keep customers from being disappointed when they roll up to their closest McDonald’s to find the St. Patrick’s-inspired drink is not on the menu, McDonald’s created a GPS-based Shamrock Shake Finder app. I’ve tried this app, and begrudgingly allowed it to send a text to my friend in the South End, alerting him that indeed there was a location less than a mile from my Somerville home. It was both informative and a cry for help.
In case you didn’t know, McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes are mint-flavored milkshakes that are promoted as being Irish-ish simply because they are green. They were invented by Connecticut franchise owner, Harold Rosen, in 1966 as an effort to raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House Charities. They now continue to appear around late February at locations around the country, pegged to St. Patrick’s Day.
Each small shake contains 63 grams of sugar, meaning, in a Whole30, clean-eating world, they’re often considered to be the bane of some people’s’ existence. Pinterest is even ripe with “healthy” recipe remakes — of the vegan, paleo, and avocado-based variety.
Others — like me — stick with the original. It’s minty! It’s green! It only comes once a year! The popularity of the product even spurred four new variations last year, ranging from mocha to a chocolate chip frappe. This year, Dairy Queen released a green-hued rival. (Burger King tried a similar move in 2016.)
Twitter appears to be the epicenter for both Shamrock Shake praise and rage. Because part of the fun of a Shamrock Shake is having an irrationally strong opinion about it. Even the Globe’s informal Twitter poll is split almost down the middle. The shakes appear to be the cilantro of the frozen dairy world.
Some welcome the shake back into existence with photoshoots and praise.
While others liken it to cup of toothpaste — though dentists would probably disagree.
From the perspective of a more refined palette, Jacqueline Dole, Parlor Ice Cream Co. founder, Cambridge School of Culinary Arts grad, and lover of “novelty seasonal specials,” the shake tastes like the mint of a mint chocolate chip without the chocolate. Or rather: “like the version of an Andes mint that would end up at the dollar store. You know, the season that they thought white chocolate and mint would be a hit.”
It can’t be all bad. In 2017, McDonald’s ditched artificial flavorings from the vanilla soft serve that is the base for all of its frosty treats. And despite conflicting reports, it is in fact a true milkshake made with milk. (It also contains carrageenan, a common food stabilizer made from a seaweed type known as “Irish Moss” — so perhaps Irish-ish after all.)
And as for the storm, it’s hard to validate braving wind gusts and runaway dumpsters for a milkshake that will still be available at least through the middle of the month. But you could have it delivered — because it’s 2018, and there’s an app for that, too.Rachel Raczka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.