Shamrock Shakes: Awful for Your Diet, Beautiful for Your Soul

59214575Most of us just finished celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, which means it was Shamrock Shake season. Mmmm; it is always so exciting when McDonald’s brings back the top seller Shamrock Shake. The mint-flavored milkshake is sold during the months of February and March in American and select Canadian restaurants.

The Shamrock shake is made with a mint ice cream base, vanilla syrup, and milk. Just a small shake is 530 calories. That’s a lot of calories for a small drink. Think about all the other food you could eat in place of the shake that would be much more filling and provide better nutrients…but, it’s just so good.

It’s hard to resist the temptation of the Shamrock Shake. The shake is advertised all over the place, and it is only there for a limited time. The temptation to get it is just so strong that it is easy to give in.

ronald mcdonald house
Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia

Yes, the shake isn’t the healthiest drink for you, but there is something about it that can make you regret consuming one a little less: its history.McDonald’s refers to its Shamrock Shake as “a beloved treat with a legacy of love.” What most people do not know is that this shake is more than a delicious treat that comes around during St. Patrick’s Day. This shake helped bring about the first ever Ronald McDonald House.

In 1974, Philadelphia Eagles tight-end Fred Hill was going through the pain of watching his then three-year-old daughter get treated for leukemia. Hill and his wife spent the years of their daughter’s treatment camping out on hospital benches and waiting rooms along with the families of other ill children. A lot of the time, families have to travel far distances for treatment and can’t afford hotel rooms, which is what led to them to camping out in the hospital.

Because he went through it and watched other families go through it, Hill wanted to do something about the struggle of traveling and having nowhere to stay while their children got treatments. Using his connections from the Eagles, Hill got his team to help him out in raising funds.

Jim Murray, the Eagles’ general manager, helped the team reach out to Doctor Audrey Evans who is the head of the pediatric oncology unit at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Evans had a similar dream as Hill: she wished for a home away from home for the families of those being treated at her hospital.

To help Evans and Hill achieve their dream, Murray called a friend who works at a local McDonald’s advertising agency and asked about his next promotion, which happened to be the Shamrock Shake. Don Tuckerman, Murray’s friend, helped launch the week-long promotion to support Hill and Evans fund.

This fund created by the Philadelphia Eagles and McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes raised enough money to buy an old four-story house with seven bedrooms near the hospital. In 1974, this became known as the first Ronald McDonald House. The amount of Ronald McDonald houses has grown ever since then. These houses help families have a comfortable place to stay at while their children are going through treatments at hospitals nearby.

So next time you’re feeling guilty about indulging in a Shamrock Shake, remember its history with Ronald McDonald houses and you should feel better.