In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, millions of Americans get their Irish on and partake in all sorts of seemingly Irish practices. They sing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” and drink Guinness-infused concoctions with colorful names. Heck, some even start the day off with a bowl of magically delicious Lucky Charms because, you know, there’s a leprechaun on the box and all.
We hate to it break to you, but many St. Patrick’s Day mainstays are pure Americanized nonsense, including the following:
Let’s hope you didn’t think this fast food favorite actually had Irish roots. The artificially green, mint-flavored McDonald’s Shamrock Shake first appeared in 1970—in the U.S., of course—and it’s been a periodic limited-time-only menu cult hit every year around St. Patrick’s Day ever since. For a brief time in the mid-1970s, McDonald’s used an obese furry green character named Uncle O’Grimacey, who looks like a mix between Grimace and Oscar the Grouch, to promote the Shamrock Shake. The 550-calorie product wasn’t available nationally until 2012, and McDonald’s Ireland lists the Shamrock Shake as “NEW” on its menu.
Killian’s Irish Red
Like a few other seemingly imported beers that are actually made in the U.S.A., Killian’s Irish Red ale has been brewed exclusively in America for decades. Coors purchased the name in 1980, and the suds are made in factories in Colorado.
Um, no. Despite this cereal’s magically delicious leprechaun mascot and his over-the-top brogue, Lucky Charms is made by the giant Minneapolis-based food manufacturer General Mills and has nothing to do with Ireland or Irish culture. The traditional Irish breakfast has sausages, pudding, eggs, browned bread, and cooked tomatoes, not colored marshmallows.
If you run into a woman in a leprechaun costume—sexy or otherwise—on St. Patrick’s Day, be aware that she probably isn’t the genuine article. She probably has no pot ‘o gold either. Shocking, right? According to A History of Irish Fairies by Carolyn White, there is no record of lady leprechauns, which makes you wonder how these tiny figures procreate. Leprechauns are known to be quite clever, but still. Also mind-boggling: Before Friends, Jennifer Aniston’s career in Hollywood truly began with her role in the low-budget 1993 horror film Leprechaun. (She wasn’t a leprechaun though—that would be ridiculous.)
“When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”
The beloved tune, memorably recorded by Bing Crosby among others, is often categorized as a traditional Irish folk song. In fact, it was written and composed by a trio of thoroughly American New Yorkers who were professional songwriters, for an extremely short-lived 1913 Broadway show called The Isle O’ Dreams.