Shamrock Shake shocker: It's disappeared!

Friday, March 16th 2007, 4:00 AM

A St. Patrick's mystery can now be solved. The green ice cream treat known as the Shamrock Shake, that surfaced like a four-leaf clover in McDonald's restaurants every March, seems to have been plucked away.

Introduced in 1970 as an alternative to strawberry, chocolate and vanilla, the seasonal treat quickly became a favorite.

My search for the minty milkshake began as soon as March rolled around. I first hit the deluxe two-story McDonald's on 10th Ave., then Times Square, then Union Square and then the Financial District.

At some locations I was met with blank stares. "The Shamrock Shake?" I would repeat. "It's for Saint Pat's Day." Nothing.

As March 17 grew near, the craving became unbearable. I called headquarters.

"New York region no longer stocks the Shamrock Shake," Jennifer Nagy of McDonald's regional marketing told me. "Our branches can vote region by region," and in New York City, the five boroughs and surrounding areas, they're not voting green.

Not so outside the Empire State. "We have it," a worker at a Boston McDonald's told me when I called. "We'll have it for the whole summer!"

"Oh yeah," said a rep for McDonald's in Philadelphia. "And our area extends into southern Jersey."

Based on an extensive telephone survey, I discovered that New York is the only dry spot on the Northeast coast.

While the supply is spotty, the shake can be found at select locations from Maine to southern Connecticut. Then it disappears again until Trenton, N.J.

"We really listen to what our customers are asking for," Nagy told me when I called her again in horror. "It's a regional decision, and our customers are looking for coffee and iced coffee, so that's where our focus is."

So where does one turn? Do we have to trek 50 miles to take our chances at the Golden Arches in Norwalk, Conn.?

For the devotee, the true seat of the green grail lies in, that's right, Ireland. Six out of seven Dublin McDonald's had the shake. The seventh?

"We ran out," a staffer told me. "It's been popular here. But we should have a fresh stock in by Friday."

Patrick Huguenin

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