I’ve never had a Shamrock Shake. For years, I’ve heard how good they are and have been chastised by both friends and strangers — strangers who felt compelled to speak out in the shake’s defense when I declined to add one to my order — for missing out on one of life’s greatest, greenest pleasures. But that all changed yesterday.
With the announcement that Burger King had launched their own riff on the famed minty concoction, it was decided that I would launch an investigation into whether BK’s Mint Oreo Shake (formerly the Oreo Irish Mint Shake) was truly the Shamrock Shake killer we’ve been waiting for. A daunting task, but one I felt sure I could handle. After all, I’ve eaten 12 pounds of candy, made the chocolate pasta from Elf, and drank a full gallon of Egg Nog since I’ve been at UPROXX, so what could a few harmless seasonal shakes do to me? Nothing, that’s what.
So I called a Lyft (because don’t use Uber!), locked in my coordinates (a foolish task as you will soon learn), and embraced the green minty future.
Criteria 1: Availability
McDonald’s: It turns out that all those memes about McDonald’s shake machines constantly being out of order are true, because I had to hit two McDonald’s to get one shake. The first Golden Arches I hit enthusiastically accepted my order, but the manager returned two minutes later to inform me that the machine was broken. Then she changed her story and told me the machine was on something called “heat mode” and wouldn’t dispense shakes for at least 30 minutes, but that I was welcome to wait. No way, man, those are minutes I’d want back at the end of my life — picture me on my deathbed rasping out “if only I hadn’t waited for that shake” — so I hopped back into a Lyft (my driver was disappointed because I had promised him a strawberry milkshake) and drove outside of San Francisco’s city limits to get my hands on some cool lime-green comfort. (The machine was fully operational at the second location).
Burger King: The machines at Burger King were not broken, so I only had to wait about thirty seconds to get two Mint Oreo Shakes and the aforementioned strawberry shake that I’d promised the driver — he preferred Burger King anyway, although he told me he greatly admires McDonald’s advertising tactics. There was one moment of suspense before the shakes were dispensed because the cashier informed me that “no one orders a shake this early, man, so I don’t know what to tell you,” but it all came right in the end. (Plus, I got to watch several senior citizens bicker with the manager over how many coupons they could use to get a free coffee).
Winner: Burger King. If you’re really in the mood for a shake and want one right now, heading for BK and hoping for the best proved to be the correct choice.
Criteria 2: Presentation
McDonald’s: The Shamrock Shake in the ad and the Shamrock Shake that’s handed to you after you’ve paid and can no longer ask for a refund are almost the same color. While it’s true that the ads present a more sophisticated and refreshing vision, if aesthetics are important to you, you’ll be pleased to learn that the colors match in a nearly identical fashion and the cherry on top is very, very real. There’s also a lot of whipped cream, which is always a plus.
Burger King: Folks, I’m going to have to break some hard news to you: The Oreo Mint shake looks nothing like what you see in the ad. In fact, once you’ve received it, you might be tempted to return it due to the fact that it’s not green and that the cookie crumbles that are promised to float deliciously throughout your glass of liquefied ice cream are kind of just dumped on top of the whipped cream. It’s not ugly or anything, but it’s also not going to get you any Instagram followers, so if you’re looking to show off your drink — an important concern in these modern times — you may want to bring your own bottle of food coloring to achieve the hue of your liking.
Winner: McDonald’s. The shake looks almost exactly like the one in the commercial. I was impressed! It’s rare that you see something in that shade of green look appetizing in real life, but there you have it.
Criteria 3: Consistency
McDonald’s: Literally perfect. There’s nothing worse than a milkshake that feels like a chore to drink and McDonald’s has melted their ice cream to a consistency that makes it easy and fun to consume. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d type, but I also didn’t think I’d be in a McDonald’s at 10:30AM questioning a beleaguered cashier about how many Shamrock Shakes he’d sold that day. If you’re interested, the answer was “zero” because “not so many people like to drink this stuff in the morning. It’s too much sugar.”
Burger King: Man, oh man, was this hard to suck through a straw. Of course, I had the first shake of the day at Burger King, too, but there’s no reason the ice cream should have been so thick that I almost pulled a face muscle drinking it. I had to resort to sucking up as much as I could into a straw, flipping that straw around, and then sucking the ice cream out of the wrong end. My Lyft driver for this leg of the journey, who also consented to me buying him a shake and also got strawberry, had the same problem.
His final verdict? “They use too much electricity.” I don’t know what that means exactly, but I’m going to assume that he would have preferred a hand-churned milk shake. Me too, bud, but this is Burger King.
Winner: McDonald’s. No contest. Next.
Criteria 4: Taste
McDonald’s: I don’t know if this is how Shamrock Shakes taste in general or if my drink was a fluke, but you can literally taste the diabetes getting comfortable in your body as you guzzle, each sip bringing you closer and closer to having something in common with Paula Deen. The shake was so sweet that it hurt my teeth and I couldn’t even finish a small. While I was promised “green sprinkles,” I couldn’t find (or taste) any, and the mint flavor was so overpowering that it tasted industrial. Plus, the mint had hints of lemon/lime in it, which, whether real or imagined (I like to think the employees experiment with flavors once the store closes) wasn’t great.
Would I order this again? No. Do I think that McDonald’s is flying too close to the sun by offering this in a large? Absolutely.
Burger King: Despite the fact that it’s hard to drink and tastes nothing like mint at all, Burger King’s Oreo Mint shake was the clear winner when it came to taste. If you like mint, this isn’t the drink for you, but if you’re chill with a drink that gives you hints — wisps — of the stuff while tasting primarily like a regular old Oreo shake, then you’ll love it. Trust me. I did.
Winner: Burger King Oreo Mint shake, despite not tasting like mint at all. (At least it’s not so sweet you can feel it in your blood.)
The winner is… the four hash browns that I ate after enjoying my shakes. And Lyft. But if you’re asking about which of these milkshakes I’d enthusiastically have again, I’m going to have to go with Burger King’s new offering. It may not be the end of the Shamrock Shake, but it’s a delicious spring drink that doesn’t overpower you with mint — even if you do have to shake it really hard to soften the contents.