McDonald's Grimace Shake Review: It Deserves A Grimace

McDonald's fans are having a hard time wrapping their heads around the fact that the Grimace shake actually exists. After all, one of the most-loved characters from Ronald's wild menagerie has hardly gotten his due over the years. Discovering there's a shake that's not only named after him but also captures his eye-popping purple hue takes a little getting used to. And the fact that it's featured in a pricey Grimace birthday meal that commemorates the big guy's big day has some Mickey D maniacs seeing red.

Good news, fast-food fans: The deal is real! Considering the backstory is that he's a giant taste bud, Grimace is deserving of nothing less than a flavor sensation for his celebratory shake. The swirling violet concoction already calls to mind the color of his amorphous, pre-Teletubby form. Does the sweetness of the shake itself live up to his sugary personality? Or does this psychedelic sipper's novelty fade before the straw hits the bottom of the cup? We had to find out for ourselves. So we set our taste testers on "stun" and made tracks to the nearest Golden Arches to give it a try.

It's a pretty purple pour, for sure

If technicolor sweets are your idea of the perfect treat, the Grimace shake should be high on your priority list. Despite the relatively washy swirls depicted on the McDonald's website photos, what appears in the cup in real life is a shade that does the grape-colored globule of McDonaldland proud. Fast-food hawks looking for a new creation that stirs up the shake game will have a new square on their bingo cards, courtesy of Grimace and Ronald's behind-the-scenes culinary imagineers.

What creates the lavender tint in the cup, a color so convincing even Prince's heirs would be proud to serve the Grimace shake at Paisley Park? It's an element not found on the periodic table of food chemistry, with the sinister yet surprisingly appropriate name Grimace shake syrup. No ... seriously. This is the term listed on McD's nutrition breakdown. In addition to the milk, ice cream, and whipped cream that make up the remainder of the shake, the syrup ingredients include vegetable juice to get that groovy color and "natural flavor." That description covers a wide and mysterious range that no one ever gets to the bottom of, and maybe that's for the best.

As a stand-alone, the Grimace Shake is reasonably priced

McDonald's app users nearly lost it when they saw the price of the Grimace birthday meal. $15 for what is no more than a Big Mac or 10-piece nugget combo with a specialty shake as the centerpiece feels like a gouge, even for the most ardent advocates of the Ronald McDonald Fan Club. How can a celebratory combo for a fictitious character be worth the difference in price? And what if you want just the shake all by itself? App users soon learned they had to order the meal deal to get the purple prize. It's available on its own at walk-up counters and drive-thru windows, though. Whew!

While the uproar over the $15 price point of a full-fledged Grimace birthday meal is reasonable in a season of inflation fatigue, the shake itself is a separate deal that rings up at $4.39 for a large version at the location we visited. This doesn't seem like such a huge financial setback, considering the large is actually large — big enough to feel like the juice is worth the squeeze, even if the cost is almost double that of the other, less awe-inspiring shakes on the McDonald's marquee.

This eye-popping treat will be temporarily shaking up the fast-food scene

The sugary buzz around the Grimace shake is kicking into high gear now that the newest member of the McLine-Up has debuted. We couldn't find it listed as a stand-alone on the menu when we cruised into the closest location to order one, and a broken shake machine told us that Grimace may be getting short shrift during his big debut. The second location was far more accommodating, with a loaded cup ready to go in seconds after we placed our order. If an ice cream-based novelty can be described as selling like hotcakes, it could apply to this blue-violet belly buster.

McDonald's is playing things cool by omitting an end date for the Grimace shake, though the company confirms that this superstar will steal the spotlight for a limited time only. Whether this amounts to a "while supplies last" time frame or just an "until guests lose interest" deal, the clock is ticking. For anyone interested in trying the fruit-flavored froster, it's best to get in quickly. Luckily, it's a warm weather promotion, great for shaving a few degrees off your internal thermostat when the summer rays start sizzling.

It's by far the most magical-looking shake on the menu

Not since the Shamrock shake has a McDonald's ice cream beverage had such a captivating visual impact. While that seasonal sensation picks up on the glowing green magic of both St. Patrick's Day and the minty flavor in the cup, the Grimace Shake creates its own colorful space on the table by presenting a practically Day-Glo version of Crayola purple. It's available in the usual small, medium, and large sizes when ordered separately from the meal. It may also be possible to upgrade to your desired size when opting for the whole Grimace birthday meal. It never hurts to ask, and you miss 100% of the large shakes you don't request.

As comparable flavors on the McMenu go, the only other fruit-oriented offering that could stand side-by-side with Grimace is a strawberry shake. A match-up like that is less than fair, considering that strawberries are both part of the name and an identifiable ingredient in the item itself. With no flavor worked into the Grimace shake naming convention, this beguiling blend has the sweet surprise factor working either for or against it.

Nutrition details are murky for this lilac libation

When it comes to nutrition, the Grimace shake is the pinnacle of poor eating choices. A cup filled with ice cream flavored with a mysterious purple goo that has no known ingredient breakdown, topped with as much whipped cream as can fit in that little domed lid, isn't destined to make an appearance on anyone's food pyramid. When ordered as either a Big Mac or a 10-piece McNugget meal, the nutrition facts are even less encouraging. It's best to keep our focus on just the shake itself, for obvious reasons.

And yet ... we couldn't find a separate nutrition listing for just the shake. The red-headed clown is playing it very close to the vest when it comes to sharing food facts about his best buddy's celebratory shake. Instead, we consulted the meal breakdown to find out how many steps it might take to counteract what's in the cup, along with the rest of the bag. For the Grimace birthday meal, prepare to consume 1490 calories, 64 grams of fat, and 186 total carbs, with 42 grams of protein coming along for the ride. A bit of quick math suggests the shake itself clocks in at 550 calories, 13 grams of fat, 94 grams of carbs, and 13 grams of protein.

The Grimace Shake made us ... well, grimace

We took a super sip of this creamy concoction, convinced that we knew exactly what we were getting. Boy, were we disappointed when the taste kicked in. Initially, there's a suggestion of something natural, like a juice smoothie with a ramped-up ice cream kick. In short order, the Jamba drains right out of the straw. What remains is a flattened flavor that feels like it was created by a scientist given a nondescript list of instructions to follow without being told what result he was aiming for. Is it creamy? Incredibly. Is it fruity? Kind of. Is it satisfying? Nope. It's a cringeworthy drinkable version of the "When you order from Wish" meme.

There's very little wiggle room in the food flavoring sphere for the taste of something purple. It's either grape or some form of wild berry, a rule we've learned from items like jelly, juice boxes, and Jolly Ranchers. Maybe diehard McDonald's fans will find something to love in this strange and unsettling mixture. As for our tastes, the Grimace shake is a groan-worthy and troubling tribute to a garrulous grape-colored goofball who deserves so much better.