This week, I reached out for a returning classic, the Shamrock Shake, and its new spinoff, the Oreo Shamrock McFlurry, at America's No. 1 burger barn, McDonald's, with 14,000 restaurants coast-to-coast, up, down, and all around. There are 300 McDonald's just in the Houston area. There are five McDonald's within a 10-minute drive from my winter home in West University Place.
Here's the Shamrock Shake breakdown: vanilla soft-serve ice cream blended with minty Shamrock Shake syrup, whirled (neither shaken nor stirred, Mr. Bond) into a frenzy, adorned with whipped topping.
Total calories: 460 (for a small). Fat grams: 13. Sodium: 150 mg. Carbs: 74 g. Dietary fiber: zip. Protein: 10 g. Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $2.36. There's also a medium (560 calories, 16 fat grams) for $3, and a large (790 calories, 22 fat grams) for $3.50.
Here's the Oreo Shamrock McFlurry breakdown: vanilla soft serve spiked with Oreo cookie bits 'n' pieces, a jolt of minty Shamrock Shake syrup, finished off with whipped topping. Total calories: 560. Fat grams: 17. Sodium: 260 mg. Carbs: 93 g. Dietary fiber: a measly 1. Protein: 12 g. Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $3.
The Shamrock Shake may be McDonald's most popular recurring character behind only the McRib. Surprisingly, the Shamrock Shake hasn't been available in Texas since 2017. McDonald's says some menu items play better in different parts of the U.S. For example, the Shamrock Shake doesn't miss a year up in the northeast. While McDonald's has restaurants in more than 100 countries, the Shamrock Shake is only available in the U.S., Canada, and you guessed it, Ireland.
The Shamrock Shake was invented by Connecticut franchisee Hal Rosen in 1967, and went national in 1970. So, this is the Shamrock Shake's golden anniversary, and the big reason it's available nationally this year. In fact, this is the first time the Shamrock Shake is available in all parts of the U.S. in the same year. Fun fact: originally the Shamrock Shake was laced with lemon-lime syrup to give it a greenish hue. Years later, McDonald's ditched lemon-lime and switched to mint-flavored green syrup.
In 2017, McDonald's went maverick with Shamrock Shake offshoots, including the Shamrock Chocolate Shake, Shamrock Chocolate Chip Frappe and Shamrock Hot Chocolate. The Oreo Shamrock McFlurry is new, and it's hardly a long shot gamble to combine chocolate Oreo cookies with mint-flavored soft serve. The chocolate-mint pairing is a lock — the basis for Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies and York Peppermint Patties.
Both the shake and McFlurry are LTO (industry lingo for limited time only) and will be gone soon after their "raison d'etre." That's French for reason for existence: St. Patrick's Day.
Ken Hoffman reviews a new fast food restaurant item every Wednesday. Have a suggestion or a drive-thru favorite? Let Ken know on Twitter.