The Shamrock Shake & Other Irish Ice Cream Treats

By now, everyone is familiar with McDonald’s iconic Shamrock Shake.  The St. Paddy’s day special debuted in 1970, a product of Rogers Merchandising as an alternative to strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla milk shakes.  In those early days, the Shamrock Shake was lemon-lime flavored vanilla ice cream, which conjures images of tropical islands, rather than the land of four-leaf clovers.  In 1973, McDonald’s changed the milk shake to vanilla ice cream dyed green.  During the 46 years between then and now, the shake has turned to mint, been discontinued, brought back, turned into an ice cream sundae, and most-recently seen an explosion in variety.  The Shamrock Shake even inspired its own short-lived McDonald’s character: O’Grimacey.

Some lesser known Shamrock Shake history is that the first occurrence of a green milk shake was in fact in the Emerald Isles – Galway, to be exact.  In 1814, a fisherman named Ferris McElroy sold a minty and milky, warm, green drink he called the Shamo for 35 years (fun fact: the names “Kilroy” and “McElroy” are both anglicized versions of the Gaelic “Mac Giolla Ri” so we are related to this guy!).  The Shamo is supposedly the inspiration for McDonald’s Shamrock Shake. 

The Shamrock Shake has proliferated in popular culture so much that it has inspired dozens of other Irish themed ice cream treats.  From green ice cream pies (try it with pistachio instead of mint for a delicious variety on the tasty treat) to ice cream spiked with whiskey, there is an Irish themed ice cream treat for everyone.  If you make one of these at home and you’d like it green, make sure to add a healthy amount of food coloring- mint and pistachio ice cream churn off-white, not green!  Check out this article or pick-up the book “Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream” by Dana Cree to learn how to make natural food coloring. 

As Irish-American ice cream makers, we love to get in on the St. Paddy’s Day fun and invent Irish themed ice cream offerings.  We’ve made our own version of the Shamrock Shake, minty brownie milk shakes, Guinness ice cream sandwiches, and Irish Cream Cookies and Cream.  This year, we are making Guinness Ice Cream Sandwich Bars and Lucky Irish Ice Cream Sandwich Bars.  Here’s what’s in them:

·       Guinness Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich Bar: Guinness ice cream (made with real Guinness) sandwiched between two freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, layered with fudge (non-alcoholic)

·       Lucky Irish Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich Bar: Mint chocolate swirl ice cream sandwiched between two freshly baked chocolate, chocolate chip cookies

You can find them at:

·       March 10th: Shamrock’s for HOPE, a David’s Dream and Believe Cancer Foundation event at Breeze’s Bar and Grill in New Gretna

·       March 17th: Buckalew’s Tavern St. Paddy’s Day party in Beach Haven

At The WooHoo, we don’t use colorings or dyes in our ice cream, but we made an exception just this once for the Lucky Irish Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich Bars.  After Shamrock’s for HOPE, you’ll only be able to get the Guinness Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich Bars at Buckalew’s Tavern in Beach Haven- they will be on their menu all season.  If you have a hankering for the Lucky Irish Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich Bars, you can special order those, ice cream pies, and ice cream cakes all month, directly through The WooHoo.  Just give us a call at 609-492-5433 or order online!