St. Patrick’s Day may nominally be about St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland who banished all of the snakes from the Emerald Isle, but really, it’s all about food and fun, and Irish culture.
Corned beef and cabbage? Fuhgitaboutit. To keep you nourished through all of the parades, clogging, and general revelry, here’s a handy guide to the St. Patty’s Day promotions going on at fast-food chains around the country.
We’ll take you through it, meal by meal. Because if there’s one thing that’s more fun than wearing green, it’s eating green food that isn’t a vegetable.
Massachusetts is the most Irish state in the United States by population percentage, so why not start your St. Patrick’s Day in a Boston-based institution? Dunkin' Donuts is celebrating the Irish with two limited edition doughnuts. There’s the “Lucky Mint” – a glazed chocolate cake doughnut with chocolate icing and green mint chocolate bark shavings sprinkled on top. If you aren’t in the mood for chocolate, you can opt for the Green Shamrock Donut – a plain doughnut topped with Kelly green frosting and green and white sprinkles. The pastries are available through the end of March. Prices vary, but plan to pay about 89 cents per doughnut.
In case you get to lunchtime thinking you haven’t seen quite enough green this St. Patrick’s Day, Burger King has you covered. The burger chain is giving away a free serving of fries to every customer that walks in on March 17 and 18, and they come with bright green Heinz St. Paddy’s sauce for dipping (green ketchup, more or less).
After your Burger King meal (eat something besides the free fries, please), you can stop by competitor McDonald’s for the king of St. Patrick’s Day promotional treats: The Shamrock Shake. Like the elusive McRib sandwich, the scarce availability of the bright green milkshake has generated somewhat of a cult following. It appears only occasionally, at select McDonald’s locations on or around St. Patrick’s Day.
The shake made its first appearance in 1970, and has a colorful, turbulent history, including a failed 1980s marketing campaign with the Uncle O’Grimacey character, and a poorly selling Shamrock Sundae. In 2010, McDonald’s began selling the shake under its McCafé line of relatively upscale shakes and coffee drinks. This year marks the first nationwide rollout of the Shamrock Shake, which will be available for a limited time depending on location. The shakes run from $2.09 to $3.19, depending on size. The current version is made with lowfat vanilla ice cream, the characteristic plutonium-green Shamrock Shake syrup, whipped cream, and topped with a maraschino cherry.
Bright green treats can be fun, but Arby’s is going a different route and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with traditional Irish cuisine (sort of). From March 16-18, the chain, which has temporarily renamed itself O’RB’s in honor of the holiday, is offering Buy One, Get One Free coupons on its Deli-Style Fresh Reuben sandwiches. They come on toasted marble rye bread with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing, and the most Irish of all sandwich meats: corned beef. Give one sandwich to a loved one, or just eat both yourself.
And cap off your St. Patrick’s day of gorging at Dairy Queen, with a limited edition Mint Oreo Blizzard. The ice cream concoction, mixed with Oreo crumbles, will be available all through March, and promises to be mintier than the Shamrock Shake (just the thing for your breath after all those Arby’s Reubens). With an online coupon, you can buy one at regular price and get another of equal or lesser size for 99 cents.