My Shamrock-Shake Obsession: When a Food Fixation Doesn't Pay Off

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How many shades of food coloring can fit in one cup?
​A few years ago, a roommate and I Netflixed a portion of the first season of Punky Brewster. It was one of those months-later arrivals in which you open the red envelope and stare at the little white sleeve with zero recognition until Ah, yes -- alcohol and the Netflix queue

In a fit of nostalgia, aided in no small part by a hangover-induced inertia, we fired up the disc and spent an hour or so pretending to enjoy the trip down memory lane when in actuality, we were feeling old and betrayed by something that failed on all accounts to live up to expectations. 

I mention this because the Punky Brewster revisitation of 2008 taught me a few things. One, Netflix, like Facebook, should come with a "Sunday Afternoon Reset" button. Two, revisiting obsessions from one's youth only occasionally yields satisfying results. 

Take the shamrock shake. This McDonald's milk shake is a thing of legend in fast-food circles. Like a comet of mint-like, semifrozen food stuffs, the shamrock shake comes around but once in a great while, bringing with it hysteria of near McRib proportions. 

A child of the '80s, I loved the shamrock shake: I desired it, and not because it was forbidden. We seldom had fast food, but my mom is a Midwesterner and, thus, a sucker for sweets. The occasional McDonald's shake or twisted cone was perfectly acceptable. And goodness -- the shamrock shake? It's a rarity. And mint's good for you, no? It's green. Thus the shamrock shake became a celebrated tradition in my household (and imagination). Not on par with Christmas Eve or the opening day of deer-hunting season -- we're not animals, for Christ's sake -- but anticipated nonetheless. 

The shamrock shake disappeared from the marketplace in the early '90s, making a return in 2008. I broke my shamrock-shake fast that winter during a road trip from Michigan to Pennsylvania with some former roller-derby teammates. Piled into the back of an overloaded SUV, one of us spotted a McDonald's sign bearing mention of the St. Patrick's Day treat. This led to a spurt of begging and pleading that likely would make the most grocery-store-tantrum-prone toddler blush. We got our shakes. We also got stomachaches.

About a week before St. Patrick's Day 2011, the ol' craving kicked in. Using shamrockshake.com, a site exclusively used to track the availability of the shake, I learned the store closest to my house was holding, and I enlisted the BF to help me score. Alas, once we reached the drive-through (in Boca Raton on Federal Highway, just north of Glades), we were turned away. No soup for us, huh? We were pointed in the direction of the store on Palmetto Park Road just west of Powerline Road. Here, they had the good stuff, we were told.

In an embarrassing footnote in my life's history, I insisted we continue the hunt. "That's a promotional item. For St. Patrick's Day. We don't have it anymore," the voice crackled over the speaker, intoning that I was some sort of asshole for even asking about it. It was March 13.

This year, CNN reported that McDonald's would make the beverage available at every one of its franchises, thus putting an end to the artificially inflated demand for the Moby Dick of frozen fast-food beverages. Last Sunday, I took a ride to the closest Mickey D's and soon had my hands on a sweet, sweet -- oh God, so sweet -- shamrock shake. In the four-year gap since my last indulgence, the shake had grown a clownish cap of "whipped cream" topping and a maraschino cherry.

The first sip transported me to the back seat of my mom's Volkswagen Rabbit, my fingers still French-fry greasy, a ketchup-stained T-shirt covering my little potbelly, filling fast with minty green milk shake. The second sip tasted like sucking on a gallon of green, semifrozen house paint. With a mouthwash chaser. I made it through about one-sixth of a 12-ounce serving before admitting I was not, indeed, loving it. Fool me once, childhood fixation, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times and I gotta stop trying to eat this thing.
 

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Melissamccart
Melissamccart

I'll forever think of the shamrock shake as the moby dick of fast food frozen beverages.

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