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Shake it up

Don’t drink a Shamrock Shake when you can have a tastier, less toxic alternative
A large Shamrock Shake, loaded with 54 ingredients, from Mcdonalds.
Image by Patricia Grover
A large Shamrock Shake, loaded with 54 ingredients, from Mcdonalds.

McDonald’s is convenient but pathetic. It’s a master of marketing and capitalizes on consumers’ willingness to forsake taste and quality for efficiency and predictability.

One of the worst offenders is its beloved Shamrock Shake, an allegedly mint-flavored, 54-ingredient tribute to artificiality.  McDonald’s’ McFlurries have a harrowing taste and smell to begin with; adding liberal squirts of green dye and other emulsifiers does not help its cause.

There are healthier, tastier options than McDonald’s’ melted liquid miasma, though they come with their own flaws.

The original

Besides the eye-opening 54 ingredients — none of which are mint — it’s topped with artificial “whipped cream” and nitrous oxide. A preservative-soaked cherry tops off this trashy treat. It was egregious enough to chuck into a trash can after three small sips.

Wedge Co-op’s Lucky Clover shake

At first, the Wedge’s Lucky Clover shake seemed to be the clear winner of the bunch. It retains the green hue of McDonald’s’ monstrosity but delivers on the promise of minty freshness. It’s composed of only three ingredients — coconut soft-serve, spinach and peppermint.

Fortunately, the spinach’s flavor was undetectable; otherwise, it would have tasted too much like green juice. The vegan coconut soft-serve felt light in calories and heavy in composition quality.

That is until the bottom of the shake clumped up, rendering the last 1/4 of the shake undrinkable. The texture morphed into that of an unpleasantly grainy smoothie, and the only way to finish the drink was by making annoying slurps while constantly stirring the straw in circles, which put a damper on an otherwise tasty treat.


Though offered year-round, Izzy’s Peppermint Bon Bon milkshake is ideal for St. Patrick’s Day. Unlike the Shamrock Shake and the Lucky Clover, it’s punctuated with two variants of peppermint, and Callebaut chocolate chips bestow bittersweet bliss upon the magnificently minty ice cream.

The shake’s texture is relatively consistent until the very bottom, when it clumps up, but it avoids the pitfalls of the Lucky Clover shake because it retains most of its flavor instead of morphing into watery mush. It helps that Izzy’s is one of the top scoop shops in the country (it’s one of America’s top five, according to the Munchies, a food award piloted by Andrew Zimmern). That’s why it was disappointing to find that it uses Blue No. 1 and Yellow No. 5 in its ice cream, especially when it has proclaimed its commitment to quality ingredients.


St. Paddy’s day shakes don’t have to be mushy or contain artificial flavors and colors. The best way to avoid these pitfalls is to make a Shamrock Shake at home. Head to your local grocery store, and procure three ingredients for a wholesome treat — mint chocolate chip ice cream, whole milk and vanilla. The recipe is as follows:

2 cups mint ice cream
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the ingredients, and blend until liquid.

The taste rivals that of Izzy’s but comes without the hidden artificial ingredients. Everything from whiskey to bananas can be mixed in to spruce it up.

Final verdict

In spite of several unbecoming ingredients, Izzy’s shake takes the cake. It packs the best flavor and the most consistent texture. Though the homemade shake, a close second, feels more natural, it’s hard to perfect unless the measurements are precise (there’s no room for mistakes in milkshakes — they’re serious business). The Lucky Clover shake is passable in a pinch but won’t be the four-leaf clover you’re looking for. Avoid the Shamrock Shake at all costs, unless you enjoy feeling toxins flow in your bloodstream.


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