St. Patrick’s Day marks the peak of a seasonal event celebrated with cult-like intensity by its followers: the appearance of the McDonald’s Shamrock Shake.
Vaguely minty, terrifically calorific (a 22-ounce large serving is 820 calories), topped with whipped cream and cherries, and in some places as rare as a four-leaf clover, the Shamrock Shake debuted in 1970 as the St. Patrick’s Day Shake. In 1974, proceeds from the beverage’s sale helped to fund the first Ronald McDonald’s House in Philadelphia. That city is currently the nation’s leader in Shamrock Shake sales, a McDonald’s spokesman told Quartz.
The Shamrock Shake is available in the US, Canada, and Ireland from February to mid- or late March. The decision of whether offer the beverage at individual stores is up to the franchise owner. This turns the US (and parts of Canada, and Ireland) into a frosty green patchwork of have and have-nots.
McDonald’s does not offer a map or listing of franchisees selling the Shamrock Shake. Devotees must instead turn to the unofficial trackers, such as ShakeLocator.com or ShamrockShake.com. These sites chart the heartbreak and triumph of the annual Shamrock Shake search.
“I am heartbroken, why have they done this to us!!! UGH,” wrote Becky in Anaheim, California. The greater Los Angeles area is a notable Shamrock Shake dead zone, with heartbroken seekers from Agoura Hills (“My kids are very sad!”) to Irvine (“Unbelievable!”)
In contrast, New England is a veritable golden pot of green shakes.
In some places, people don’t even appreciate what they have.
“Found it, but I threw it away after 3 sips,” wrote Mandy in Lynchburg (state unspecified). “Not the Shamrock Shake u remember. It almost has a fruity taste to it. Disappointing.”