The Shamrock Shake is officially back in McDonald's restaurants all across the country with St. Patrick's Day just a few weeks away. Many people are obsessed with the green drink and take advantage by buying plenty of them for the limited time they are out. What many people don't know is that they have the Philadelphia Eagles to thank for their popularity and growth.
The mint green creation was started by McDonald's in 1970, but it wasn't a massive hit from the beginning. In 1974, Eagles tight end Fred Hill was accompanying his three-year-old daughter to leukemia treatments, but Hill and his wife had to camp out on benches inside St. Christopher's Hospital for Children and sat in overcrowded waiting rooms during his daughter's three years of treatment. During that time, Hill saw other parents in the same situation as his family, so he decided that he wanted to create a place for families of ill children to be able to stay during their long hospital trips.
With the help of then Eagles owner Leonard Tose, Hill and his Eagles teammates were able to raise funds from a fashion show fundraiser to get his idea rolling. They eventually teamed up with the head of the pediatric oncology unit at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. Audrey Evans.
Evans had long shared the same dream that Hill imagined of a “home away from home” for families of children being treated at CHOP. Eagles General Manager Jim Murray then called a friend from the local McDonald’s advertising agency, Don Tuckerman, and asked him what their next promotion was. Tuckerman told them the Shamrock Shakes for St. Patrick's Day was the next one.
With the support of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc and regional manager Ed Rensi, Tuckerman was able to launch a week-long promotion around the Shamrock Shake, with all profits to be donated to the cause. The promotion was a success, and the proceeds helped buy an old four-story, seven-bedroom house Evans had found near the hospital. That house It opened in 1974 as the first Ronald McDonald House, and the rest is history. Today, Ronald McDonald Houses help families in over 60 countries.
While you're enjoying a Shamrock Shake this St. Patrick's Day, you can thank Fred Hill and the Philadelphia Eagles for that creation, and all the good that drink has brought to families with ill children.