Mass-produced for Britain's Royal Navy beginning in the 17th century, ship's biscuits, a.k.a. hard tack, were a non-perishable, carb-rich food source. They allowed ships to sail for ever-longer distances without needing to replenish provisions. Ship's biscuits made up most of a sailor's diet, along with salted or smoked meat. (No wonder scurvy was such a problem.) By the mid-1800s, canned foods were added to ships' pantries, but the biscuits remained a staple. Antarctic explorers like Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton in the 20th century were still serving their men "hoosh"—a stew of pemmican, penguin or seal meat, and dissolved ship's biscuit.
Despite their importance to maritime exploration, the biscuits were barely palatable. They became infested with weevils and maggots. They had to be softened in tea or beer before being chewed. They were so hard that sailors could scratch love notes to sweethearts back home on them.
The Royal Museums Greenwich recipe calls for just three ingredients: whole wheat flour, water, and salt. Combine the flour and salt, and then add the water to create a very stiff dough. Roll the dough out to a half-inch thickness, cut with a biscuit cutter into circles, and stab each circle with a fork a few times to let steam escape as they bake. Thirty minutes in the oven and voilà—a slightly chewier version of the cracker that changed the world.
You might have noticed that fast food franchises have upped the stakes considerably when it comes to promotion. In 2019, Taco Bell briefly opened a themed hotel in Palm Springs, California. Meanwhile, Wendy’s has become known for a particularly salty Twitter presence that takes swings at the competition, regularly roasting rivals Burger King and McDonald’s.
KFC recently introduced a collaboration with Crocs for shoes with a fried chicken design. In 2016, they offered a chicken-scented sunscreen. Their newest attempt to garner attention is in the form of a new fried chicken and doughnuts platter. But unlike some novelty foods, this one is rolling out nationwide.
KFC enthusiasts can choose either fried chicken on the bone or their boneless crispy chicken tenders that come with one glazed doughnut. (A big basket meal will give you two doughnuts.) If you want to reach Roman Emperor levels of decadency, you can opt for their fried chicken and doughnut sandwich, which uses two doughnuts to bookend a chicken filet.
All the doughnuts are served warm, a touch usually reserved for Krispy Kreme and other premium doughnut dispensaries. If you feel like grabbing a single doughnut, you can, provided you order one of their other meals.
KFC calls the chicken-and-doughnut combo “the newest fried chicken trend” that’s gaining in popularity, with some independently owned storefronts like Federal Donuts in Philadelphia basing their business on the dish.
KFC tested the doughnuts in 2019 and apparently got enough of an enthusiastic response to make them available across the country for a limited time. You can find the doughnut baskets and sandwich at stores beginning Monday, February 24. If you’re in Los Angeles, a special Colonel’s (Chicken and) Donut Shop will pop up two days earlier on Saturday, February 22.
Many people overdo it with the drinking on St. Patrick's Day, but it's not always Guinness or Jameson that gets them into trouble. Sometimes it's the Shamrock Shake, McDonald's uniquely green and often elusive seasonal treat. Here’s the skinny on the 660-calorie indulgence.
1. The Shamrock Shake wasn't originally known as The Shamrock Shake.
What does the Shamrock Shake have to do with the Ronald McDonald House and the Philadelphia Eagles? Everything, according to the fast food giant. When Eagles tight end Fred Hill’s daughter was being treated for leukemia in 1974, Fred and his wife spent a lot of time in waiting rooms and noticed many other emotionally depleted families doing the same. He thought it would be healthier for families if they had a place to call home while their children were being treated, so he used his football connections to get in touch with a local advertising agency that did work for Mickey D’s. They agreed to give profits from the Shamrock Shake toward a home near the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, which ended up becoming the first-ever Ronald McDonald House.
3. Uncle O'Grimacey used to be the Shamrock Shake's ambassador.
Back in the early ‘80s, a fairly offensive character named Uncle O’Grimacey was used to promote the seasonal shake.
4. No McDonald's restaurant is required to offer the Shamrock Shake.
In 2012, it was announced that, for the first time, the Shamrock Shake would be available in all McDonald's nationwide—but not all restaurants have to carry them. Regional managers decide whether their stores will carry the shakes each year.
5. Jimmy Fallon once depleted a New York City restaurant's entire Shamrock Shake supply.
If you’re a New Yorker and you didn’t get a much-craved Shamrock Shake in 2011, it’s probably Jimmy Fallon’s fault. When he caught wind that a Union Square Mickey D's had the elusive dessert, he totally cleaned them out—purchasing more than 100 shakes for his audience. New Yorkers were not pleased with Fallon.
6. The Shamrock Shake got an ice cream offshoot (that didn't fare so well).
Despite the smashing success of the shake, the Shamrock Sundae was a dismal failure. Introduced in 1980, it was discontinued after just a year. Apparently people prefer their unnaturally green desserts in shake form as opposed to scoop form. Though this year, they're trying again: in honor of the Shamrock Shake's 50th anniversary, McDonald's is also introducing an Oreo Shamrock McFlurry.
7. There have been many super-sized versions of the Shamrock Shake.
For a few years, a giant shake was poured into the Chicago River to help contribute to the green hue it’s dyed every year. A donation was also made to the Ronald McDonald House.
8. The McDonald's app will help you track down a Shamrock Shake.
Are you one of those unfortunate souls who has to hunt the shake down every year? McDonald's official app can help. In 2020, for the first time in three years, the Shamrock Shake will be offered at all McDonald's locations. If you're not sure of the nearest one near you, the McDonald's app has a full directory to help.
9. You can make your own Shamrock Shake at home.
If you still can’t find a shake, you have one other option: make your own.
10. In 2017, McDonald's engineered a special Shamrock Shake straw.
In 2017, McDonald's unveiled an amazing innovation for Shamrock Shake lovers: the STRAW. Short for Suction Tube for Reverse Axial Withdrawal, the STRAW was designed by real engineers at the aerospace and robotics engineering firms JACE and NK Labs—specifically with the Shamrock Shake in mind. What sets the device apart from conventional straws is the sharp bend in its shape and the three, eye-shaped holes in addition to the opening at the bottom end. The extra holes are positioned in a way that allows drinkers to take a sip of a new layered version of the frosty treat that’s equal parts top mint layer and bottom chocolate layer.