Let me start off this post by saying I was on a short road trip, and road trips make people do the weirdest things. Sing-alongs to 90s favorites like the boy bands (pick your favorite) and balladeers like Celine Dion. Getting trucks to honk their horns in a most juvenile fashion. Scarfing bags of Cheetos and beef jerky.
On this road trip, I didn’t do any of these things. (But I will not vouch for road trips prior.) I did, however, partake of another on-the-road oddity: The bizarrely delectable bounty that is the rest stop fast food court.
What is it about rest stop fast food that makes it so much better than fast food at any other time? Is it the diesel fumes of the nearby gas pumps interfering with our taste buds? Or maybe it’s the psychological imbalance that springs from hours in close confines with several other people that sharpens our pleasure senses. You want, no, need, fat, sugar, and salt, pronto! The rest stop blithely obliges.
So yes, you are seeing that image correctly. There, situated amongst the flying fish nuggets, is a seasonal favorite from McDonald’s. For those unfamiliar, I present to you the Shamrock Shake.
I first made the acquaintance of the Shamrock Shake as a child growing up in suburban New York. Every year I would eagerly await the arrival of St. Patrick’s Day, knowing that McDonald’s would gamely trot out its festive milkshake offering. Although I long ago lost my taste for fast food, McDonald’s included, I still have a soft spot for this bit of green nostalgia.
You can imagine my surprise when I learned that my beloved Shamrock Shake was not widely available, particularly in New York City. Times might have changed, but I don’t usually go a-knocking on McDonald’s door, especially when there are so many other places in this town to get a delicious shake.
But when you’re in a rest stop looking for some cheap energy to sustain you through the next few hours of asphalt monotony, you could do a lot worse than a vaguely minty green pick-me-up.
And that is really all the Shamrock Shake is: a lightly minty, green milkshake. As a commenter once said, it tastes “like green vanilla.” It really does. Granted, this isn’t a surprise, since the shake consists of McDonald’s vanilla soft serve blended with an artificial green mint syrup. If you look closely at the photo below, you can see some evidence of the mix-in.
This concoction is definitely not for people looking for the most authentic, high-quality milkshake out there. You probably don’t even want to know what the ingredients are. But there is definitely something about the Shamrock Shake that hits just the right spot, especially when you’re far from home.
But hie thee to a McDonald’s, lest you need to wait for a whole year to pass before you can test one for yourself.