The Original Shamrock Shake Was A Totally Different Flavor

It's a well-known strategy in marketing that when something is in limited supply or for a limited time, it becomes all the more desirable for the consumer. McDonald's is no stranger to this sales strategy — after all, it's always a big deal when the McRib comes back, right? The Shamrock Shake is just another McDonald's "limited-time" seasonal product that always seems to shake up the hum-drum of springtime. With a cool minty taste and the light shamrock green color, the Shamrock Shake is a treat with a return date eagerly marked on calendars by a legion of fans. To some, it wouldn't be St. Patrick's Day without that first sip of whipped cream and mint out of that classic Mickey Dee's cup.

Just what is the story behind the famously limited mint milkshake? In 1967, Connecticut McDonald's owner and operator Hal Rosen invented the first "Shamrock Shake" to celebrate St. Patrick's Day (via McDonald's). The shake debuted in select locations in the United States in 1970 and became an instant classic. The Shamrock Shake was also crucial in helping build support for the Ronald McDonald House, as profits from the shake's sales (and help from the Philadelphia Eagles) would go toward opening the first Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia (via Ronald McDonald House). Yet, the Shamrock Shake wasn't always the same minty green shake that we know and love today.

The original Shamrock Shake flavor

While you would be forgiven for thinking that the Shamrock Shake has always been the classic mint flavor. The truth is that the recipe for the Shamrock Shake has changed quite a bit over the years, at least according to a few sources. Both food website Chowhound and Florida newspaper New Times Broward-Palm Beach say that the first Shamrock Shake, at the time dubbed the "St. Patrick's Day Shake," was simply a combination of vanilla ice cream and lemon-lime sherbet. In 1973, according to Syracuse, the recipe changed once again — this time to the comparatively flavorless combination of vanilla ice cream and green food coloring. In 1983, the decision was made to add mint flavoring into the shake, thus giving us the modern-day taste we all know.

The Shamrock Shake is still getting plenty of changes even today. In 2017, McDonald's decided to revamp the recipe, adding — what else? — chocolate to the minty green drink (via Fox News). Customers could order a half-Shamrock, half-chocolate shake, a cup of hot chocolate with Shamrock syrup, and even a frappé loaded with chocolate chips, whipped cream, Shamrock syrup, and plenty of green sugar. This was believed to be inspired by "secret menu" items, in which customers could ask for chocolate in their Shamrock Shake or mint syrup in their coffee.

While the changes have been temporary, fans of the shake all seem to agree: Nothing beats the "classic" mint taste.