A Shamrock Shake from the Triphammer Rd McDonald’s on Mar. 18, 2022. (Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor)

March 21, 2022

Shamrock Drinks: The Final Stretch of Winter

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Although the 12 inches of winter snow we got this month begs to question whether or not spring will be on its way, the slow changing of temperature indicates that spring is nearby. Another measure to assess the changing of seasons: the return of Shamrock drinks at McDonald’s.

Since the 1970s, McDonald’s has been offering the Shamrock Shake, a light green, minty-flavored milkshake to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Every year like clockwork, the fast food chain sells this drink across stores in the US, Canada and Ireland. The seasonal drink seems to be an extremely popular sale each year, not needing much advertisement to attract people. However, after talking with my friends about the drink, the tastiness of the drink seems to be a controversial topic. I decided to try out the drink and see what the fuss was about myself, and here’s what I found. 

The drink itself is the same size and visible texture as a classic Vanilla milkshake, the only noticeable difference is the vibrant green color. The shake’s flavor is a basic, rich vanilla with hints of mint at the end of each sip. The sweetness was a little overbearing for my personal taste but I had a feeling that this level of sugar is exactly what satisfied a regular McDonald’s customer. Truthfully, the drink was nothing too extraordinary, but there seemed to be a factor that pulled people to reach and order this drink every season. After asking around, I figured that this very factor is nostalgia. McDonald’s food itself is often a nostalgic part of many Americans’ childhoods because the shake is considered a delicious treat. The Shamrock Shake in particular is a special treat consumed by children across the country around the same time each year, making it a staple of the end of winter and beginning of spring. In total, over 60 million Shamrock Shakes have been sold in the US proving that even if the flavor profile may not be a luxurious 5 star Michelen tasting dessert, it is a popular dessert option. This can be due to the component of the shake that evokes the emotions of childhood and floods back memories of past winters. 

McDonald’s has carried the classic Shamrock Shake for decades, but now, other fast food chains, such as Dunkin Donuts, are hopping on the trend by creating their own contemporary version of the drink. In Dunkin’s new 2022 Spring menu, they revealed the Shamrock Macchiato,which they described as an “espresso atop rich and creamy Irish Cream flavor, with notes of sweet cream and vanilla that capture the unmistakable flavor profile of Irish whiskey.”  I tried the drink to see how it compares to McDonald’s classic. Similar to the Shamrock Shake, the macchiato has a green coloring, adding to Saint Paddy’s festivities. However, instead of the drink being similar to a milkshake, it has the texture of a coffee and is more liquid. In addition, it does not carry a minty flavor, but instead a smooth Irish Creme flavor swirl,which complements the macchiato flavor surprisingly well. As an avid coffee drinker myself, I enjoyed this drink far more than the Shamrock Shake. However, the new Shamrock Macchiato will probably be less popular than the Shamrock Shake due to the lack of nostalgia and attachment to the new item menu. 

Whether you’re an avid fast food lover or go only once in a while, both of these drinks can bring a festive touch to the long end of this year’s winter. These fun green drinks can motivate us to push through the final cold days of the winter and look forward to a warmer spring. 

Katherine Kim is a freshman in the ILR school. She can be reached at [email protected]