Why Philadelphia Gets the Shamrock Shake Twice Every Year
The Philadelphia Eagles started the NFL season with a come-from-behind 32-27 win over their NFC East rival the Washington Redskins, wide receiver DeSean Jackson snagged two touchdowns in his return to the team, and quarterback Carson Wentz threw for a tasty 313 yards, despite not playing a single down during the preseason.
But Philly residents have another reason to feel smug this week, and it has both nothing and everything to do with its football team. McDonald's has confirmed that its typically St. Patrick's-centric Shamrock Shake is back in Philadelphia for the next month-plus, and it's the only city in America that is currently serving the frozen dessert. (Yeah, those of us outside the 215 are either gonna have to make an at-home copycat shake or keep our cravings in check until mid-February).
"This is the 6th year of McDonald’s and the Eagles partnering together in Philadelphia," a McDonald's spokesperson told Food & Wine. "McDonald's celebrates with the #FlyEaglesFly in many ways and currently the campaign 'Stomp Scream and Shake' will run through October 18, where customers will be able to find the Shamrock Shake in all local McDonald’s restaurants in the area."
Unsurprisingly, Philadelphians are feeling pretty good about themselves right now. "SAY PHILLY AINT THE BEST CITY IN AMERICA THEN WHY WE GET THE SHAMROCK SHAKE TWICE A YEAR GO BIRDS," one Eagles fan ALL CAPS'ed about the announcement. "I know I moved to Philadelphia for a reason," another added.
But the Shamrock Shake's glorious return isn't just because of the Eagles' green uniforms: it's also because Philadelphia is the shared birthplace of the Ronald McDonald House and of the Shamrock Shake itself. (That's right Liberty Bell. Everything's not all about you.) According to Philly-focused news site Billy Penn, in 1974, then-Eagles general manager Jimmy Murray and then-team owner Leonard Tose worked with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to raise $125,000 to cover the cost of some much-needed and long-overdue renovations — but they believed that they could do more, too.
That year, when the Shamrock Shake was scheduled to make another underwhelming appearance (it wasn't even a regional sensation yet) Murray asked McDonald's local ad agency if 25 cents from every shake they sold could go toward a proposed home where families could stay while their children were undergoing cancer treatments in the hospital. Ed Rensi, McDonald's regional manager, called Murray and asked him if the restaurants donated all of their Shake money to the cause, would they consider naming it the Ronald McDonald House? (Murray reportedly said that, for that amount of money, they could call it the Hamburglar House).
Thanks to that deal — and to those shakes — Murray and the Eagles organization bought and renovated a seven-bedroom house in the city and, on October 15, 1974, the first Ronald McDonald House was officially opened. "When people get together with the same problem, they can bring great joy,” Murray told Billy Penn.
Today, there are more than 365 Ronald McDonald Houses scattered throughout more than 60 countries. According to its most recent annual report, last year, Ronald McDonald House Charities were able to cover 2.5 million overnight stays, which saved those families more than $980 in hotel fees and meal costs.
OK, Philly, that seems fair. Enjoy those Shamrock Shakes, and maybe drink a couple of them for us.