Yes, folks, it's that time of year again: America's favorite vanilla-mint milkshake, the Shamrock, is available at a McDonald's near you. For the first time ever, the 2012 edition of the frosty beverage is nationwide, available at all 14,000 Mickey D's locations in the U.S.
People go gaga over this drink: each Shamrock season, blogs (like, well, us) and news sites around the country hail its return to the McDonald's menu, and there's even an entire website, shamrockshake.com, devoted to tracking down the milkshake (which, presumably, will be a lot easier to do this year, but that hasn't stopped users from breathlessly posting local "sightings").
What is it about this soft-serve creation that gets people so fired up? Is it the slim seasonal window in which it appears, lending the drink an exotic air of inaccessibility? Was it the fact that it appeared, until now, at only a select number of locations, making the experience of finding one seem like a benediction come down from the heavens? Is it the neat color? The word "shamrock," which is fun to say? Does it have something to do with leprechaun?
It's hard to believe that its secret lies in its flavor. When I tasted one today it was sweet and creamy, topped with whipped cream and a bright Maraschino cherry, which, to be honest, made the seven-year-old Shirley Temple-loving part of me feel just a twinge of nostalgia. The one I tried had only a barely perceptible mint flavor, and since the syrup isn't blended into the shake completely, you only get a strong hit of mint if your straw happens to locate a rich vein of the green syrup. Don't get me wrong: it's rich and fatty and satisfying in a milkshakey way, but I wouldn't rush out to get another.
Tell us: do you get excited about the Shamrock shake? Will you be indulging this year? Let us know in the comments.
P.S. Don't you wish O'Grimacey still made an appearance as the Shamrock mascot?