SHAMROCK SADNESS: A QUEST FOR THE SPRING STAPLE

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<aside class=”pullquote alignright”>FUN FACTS
<ul><li>First called the “St. Patrick’s Day Shake”</li><li>First sold in 1970</li><li>Originally contained lemon-lime sherbert</li><li>Current recipe – vanilla ice cream, Shamrock Shake Syrup, whipped cream</li><li>More than 60-million Shamrock Shakes have been sold, according to Fox News</li></ul></aside><p>An overwhelming feeling of defeat washed over me as I pulled into the Wendy’s drive-thru line. I had come to the restaurant seeking refuge from the chain next door, the one that features glowing yellow arches instead of red pig-tails. I ordered the closest thing I could find to comfort food: a Baconator.</p><p>Ordering a Baconator was my version of a white flag, the final signal that I’d officially given up. Not the son of a Baconator, the delicious sandwich’s more compact version. No, that wouldn’t do. Only an unhealthy amount of meat and cheese could heal my broken heart.</p><p>I was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted after having spent the entire late-February night driving around to every McDonald’s location in the greater Tuscaloosa area. My desperate search for the only thing I ever (recently) wanted had come up empty. So there I was, hoping to fill the Shamrock Shake-sized hole in my heart with a cheeseburger, knowing that it wouldn’t work.</p><p>My hunt for the elusive neon shake had been a disaster from the very start, and a smarter, less obsessive human may have given it up then. A call to one McDonald’s yielded a quick, “No, don’t have it.” A visit to another was doomed (unsurprisingly) by a broken shake machine, although they said they’d never heard of a Shamrock Shake anyway. As I pushed outside of Tuscaloosa into Cottondale, my luck was no better. The clock was ticking toward 10 p.m. and one location that was weirdly connected to a gas station had already closed for the night.</p><p>Except, I couldn’t tell that from the outside, and I spent more time than I’d care to divulge parked in its drive-thru, waiting on someone to answer my desperate calls. The next location I drove by was shut down for maintenance, which they’d just happened to schedule for that time, on that night.</p><p>Hope started to dwindle as I crossed store after store off my list until I was down to the final spot. The nervous, hopeless drive to the location took 15 minutes. I considered calling it quits and heading home, but I had to be sure that it wasn’t there. By the time I arrived, I hardly had the courage to even ask if they had it. A quick look at the menu boards told me it wasn’t. I slunk over to Wendy’s, inconsolable in my misery.</p><p>That fruitless venture took place a little over two years ago when I was a sophomore in college. After that night, I expected to experience at least two more Shamrock Shake-less springs. Although the shake was at locations throughout the country, and McDonald’s even created an app to help fanatics like me track it down, the franchises in Tuscaloosa simply didn’t carry it.</p><p>But last week, when someone walked into my workplace holding the pale-green treat, I realized that I’d been wrong. After bombarding my coworker with questions about the drink (Where did she get it? Was she sure it was real? Did it taste the same?), I conducted a quick Google search and found out that McDonald’s was celebrating the shake’s 50th anniversary. Thus the drink was available in more locations than ever before, including in Tuscaloosa.</p><p>I summoned enough willpower to wait an entire day before going to get one of the shakes for myself. The hours leading up to my retrieval of the shake were full of giddy anticipation. Even though I’d seen it with my own eyes, it still seemed too good to be true. I even called the McDonald’s location before leaving to ensure that they really had the shake and that their shake machine was actually working. The answer to both questions was yes, so I set off. As I pulled into the surprisingly uncrowded drive-thru, I saw the glorious poster announcing the treat’s return. At this point, my innate paranoia began to fade. It was real. It was here.</p><p>Untempted by the new Shamrock Shake Oreo Mcflurry mashup, I placed my order for the original version. After handing over my payment, I pulled up to the second window, ready to finally receive a plastic cup full of happiness. But when the worker held my shake out to me, it was pure white. Not a trace of the trademark green could be seen. Surely there had been a mixup. They must’ve given me vanilla.</p><p>Then, I saw it: a vibrant ring of green syrup was wrapped around the very bottom of the cup.</p><p>My heart sank. The worker looked me in my eyes and with no remorse told me that I “might need to mix it up.”</p><p>Even though fury was welling up in my chest, I only managed to mutter a quick “thanks” before driving off.</p><p>The Shamrock may have returned to Tuscaloosa, but it wasn’t quite the glorious return of my dreams.</p><p>But in my heart of hearts, I know I’ll return to those cursed golden arches, as long as they’re serving up that frozen, elusive treat.</p>

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