Wednesday, March 13, 2013

McDonalds Shamrock Shakes!

Forget the Harlem Shake…we all know there’s just ONE kinda’ shake worth talking about this time of year!

I have lived a fairly sheltered life, you know. Here I am, damn near thirty, and as I was driving through the quasi-suburban hinterlands, it suddenly dawns upon me: “Hey, you know what I’ve never actually tried before? A Shamrock Shake from McDonald's!”

For all the Tea in Russia and Rubbles in China, I couldn’t possibly fathom how I’ve managed to go this guldang long without trying one of Mickie D’s (the “D,” I have heard, is short for “diabetes”) proprietary, emerald-hued milk-like shake thingies. I mean, just take a gander at this here mid 1980s television commercial, which does a better job of selling the novelty beverage than anything that has ever been sold to anybody, in history:

The commercial logic here is all but unshakable (pun, wholly intended.) How good is the Shamrock Shake from McDonald's? Well, it’s so good, that it can actually CHANGE your ethnicity into one that’s probably a kinda’-offensive stereotype. If only McDonald's’ world-renown marketing team could invest that sorta’ industrious creativity into its breakfast burrito marketing blitzkrieg, who knows what kinda’ fantastic adverts we ought receive?

So, McDonald's. I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of their food line-up (even though, as we all know, their seasonal Halloween premiums, back in the day, anyway, we’re all kinds of awesome) and my experiences there over the last decade have been really, really limited. Picking up my first-ever Shamrock Shake was pretty much the first time I have walked into the restaurant and eaten something since 9/11, and hoo boy, has the sociological and technological dynamics a-changed something fierce.

First off, the menus. THEY ARE ALL DIGITAL VIDEO SCREENS AND STUFF. It’s like something out of “Blade Runner,” really: you walk in, and you are just BOMBARDED by audio-visual advertisements. Keep in mind, you are ALREADY in the gosh-damn store, so it’s not like they really need to put any effort in getting you to buy something there. I suppose it’s a plus for society that the restaurant now lists the caloric value of its foodstuffs out in the open, but at the same time, I really can’t help but wonder if the cerebral impact of that incessant, AV advertising onslaught isn’t doing just as much psychological harm as the deep-fried, onion-cheese, double-triple-quadruple Angus burger is doing to its patrons’ arteries.

Secondly, the employee force was almost ENTIRELY Hispanic. Even some of the signage there was posted in double language, so for those of you wondering if America is on the fast-track to becoming a bilingual, Quebec-and-Everybody Else kinda’ social state…eh, probably not.

I don’t know if you’re local McDonald's is putting as much effort into hyping the Shamrock Shake, but my nearest chain was pulling out ALL THE STOPS to remind you that, hey, they have Shamrock Shakes there. I counted no less than FIVE advertisements encircling the parameter of the building trumpeting the limited-return of the seasonal item, and probably twice as many once I entered the restaurant. Outside of hiring a dude to dress up like a Shamrock Shake, that runs up to your car and throws a Shamrock Shake at you while screaming “Shamrock Shake!” over and over, I don’t think it’s humanly possible for the advertising of the product to get any more blunt.

I opted to get the smallest shake the chain offered, which was still pretty large. The largest container, I believe, was an eight gallon oil drum, which was only 29 cents more expensive than the teeniest cup on sale. Not that it’s an example of marketing hypnosis, or anything.

To be fair, I was a little put off when my cashier simply ambled over towards the ice cream maker, flipped a switch, and out came my allegedly-delicious, green-colored milk drink. I mean, you would figure that something like that would require some sort of special sauce, or some new kind of milkshake technology, or even a special refrigeration unit, but no. Outside of the top coat of flavoring, you’re dealing with pretty much the basic milkshake ingredients, which are probably shit you wouldn’t like to know about.

Aesthetically, the Shamrock Shake looks as beautiful as you would imagine it to be. It’s a really nice shade of light green, with plenty of creamy, white foam and the two hues mix together rather harmoniously. If you’ve ever looked at a lava lamp and curiously had an urge to drink it, then you, my friend, will absolutely ADORE the Shamrock Shake.

There’s really not a whole lot to say about the packaging. It’s clear, translucent, and doesn’t say anything specifically about the Shamrock Shake itself. It’s very subdued, and portable, and otherwise unremarkable. That’s a good thing, I guess, as far as convenience goes, but who wouldn’t want a little excessive, ‘80s kitsch to lug around, either?

And, the moment of truth. After 27.3 years of life on Earth, what did I make of my first Shamrock Shake experience?

…Yeah, it was just kinda’ all right. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think it was a bad beverage in ANY way shape or form, just that it was a little too flavorful for my liking. How can that possibly be, you might ask? Well, imagine having someone drop a recently (but still flavorful) wad of chewed spearmint gum into your milkshake, and sipping the aftermath. For all intents and purposes -- sans the risk of mono, of course -- that’s EXACTLY what the Shamrock Shake tastes like.

Even so, it’s hard to knock the overall product, I reckon. As you plow through your novelty beverage, the super-hardcore mint taste begins to give way to a more traditional milkshake taste, and it isn’t too bad. Granted, there are FAR better options out there for you to sip and slurp, but then again, it’s March, it’s something green, and the nonstop adverts are basically mind-raping you to try one.

The Shamrock Shake. I’ve tried one, I was largely unimpressed, and that was it. Story of my life, really.


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