March 11, 2008

Shameless St. Patrick's Day Tie-In

That's right, folks. It's March, and that means two forces are making companies everywhere see green. One is college basketball, the other, more appropriately, is Saint Patrick's Day.

It is Saint Patrick's day that must be addressed today, because Ireland has many foods associated with it. Corned beef and cabbage, soda bread potatoes are probably the first that come to mind. None of these are peddled by big corporations though. Turn to McDonald's Shamrock Shakes, though, and you've found the fast food industry's preeminent Irish promotion.

Now, it could be argued that the Shamrock Shake is actually a nice tribute to the Emerald Isle. It is green, after all, and McDonald's was founded by Dick and Mac McDonald, who had Irish heritage.

Really, though, what does a mint-flavored milkshake have to do with Ireland? The Irish aren't particularly well known for milkshakes, unless I'm mistaken, and the flavor isn't particularly associated with the isle, unless you count the mint sauce that helps make lamb so tasty. From the outside, the whole promotion seems like a cheap way to make a buck.

Even so, the Shamrock Shake is hard to put down. Say what you will about McDonald's line of triple-thick shakes being made from a powdered mix rather than some fresh milk product, this just tastes good. The mint isn't too strong, in fact it might even be overpowered by a strong sweetness. The combination works, and works well.

In fact, once you've taken one sip of the shake, you might as well forget about putting it down until it is finished. This leads to one of the Shamrock Shake's biggest drawbacks: it will probably give you a cold rush headache. Chasing it with some aspirin would be a good idea, except drinking it so fast will probably cause your stomach to sit in a clenched ball for a few hours.

The Shamrock Shake is a tough cookie ... um ... shake to rate, because it has so many mixed factors going for and against it. On one hand, nobody likes a brazen scheme to capitalize on heritage to make money. On the other, few things should make you want to see leprechauns and sing limerick's like an Americanized tribute to the Irish -- a green shake. And it might make you feel sick afterward, but boy does it feel good going down.

Mixed reviews come out to average rankings. And while I might rank it higher had I not just had a Shamrock Shake and was not trying to get over the stomach cramps, right now it sounds like three sporks out of five. Oh, what the heck. Make them three O'Sporks out of five or something.

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