I was introduced to McDonald’s McSalad Shakers during the summer of 2000, not long after they debuted. Picture a chopped salad stuffed into a 7-Eleven Slurpee cup. They were essentially that. Salads for people who had no time to sit.
If you were hoping for an all-business McSalad Shaker history lesson, I will disappoint you in record time. My enduring love for these weirdo meals is wrapped in memories that have little to do with lettuce.
When the McSalad Shakers arrived, I was in the middle of my wannabe-waif stage, when how good I felt on a particular day directly correlated with how thin I looked. Ironically, this was also during a time when my group of friends hit McDonald’s virtually every Friday night.
The oldest in our crew had his own apartment. Every weekend, it was party central over there. We’d rent horror movies from Blockbuster, hit the McDonald’s next door, and pick up terrible beer on the way back. The McSalad Shaker was hardly diet food, but it seemed healthier than a #2.
When I look at photos of the McSalad Shakers now, I don’t see salads. I mean, I technically do, but what I really see are all of those nights spent partying in my old friend’s apartment — a chorus of clanging bottles barely audible over his Hellraiser II DVD. I’m on the loveseat, pretending my dressing-drenched cup-of-cheese is somehow better than a two-ounce hamburger.
Anyway, I did something dumb/awesome:
Using my last genie wish, I transported a McSalad Shaker from Y2K to Y2.2K.
Actually, I just bought an old McSalad Shaker cup from eBay. You can find anything on there. We live in a world where we can choose between three different 72” Ninja Turtle Pizza Hut standees from 1990. I love eBay, especially when the stuff I buy is shipped inside of repurposed pudding boxes.
After washing the cup fifty times, I was ready to make magic.
Shown above is my recreation of the original Grilled Chicken Caesar McSalad Shaker, which drowns grilled chicken, parmesan cheese and croutons in enough caesar dressing to prime every wall in a two-floor house.
Back in the day, this was my preferred McSalad Shaker. When you finished shaking one, it looked an albino fireworks celebration, forever trapped at its apex.
Using chopped lettuce is the key. The way I remember it, the leaves in a McSalad were more like fifths of leaves, which left the lettuce distributed much more densely. Gone were the airy bites of yesterday’s salad; now every forkful would evoke Hidden Valley spinach dip.
Because my day wasn’t bizarre enough, I then set about recreating a second McSalad Shaker. This is the Chef McSalad Shaker, where lettuce mixes with strips of ham and turkey, chopped egg, lil tamaters and a pile cheddar/jack cheese.
(For the record, I’m not just working from memory with these recipes. I actually looked them up. Writers write, but they also research. Since I hate research, I’ll only commit to writing things when it goes no further than “type ‘mcsalad shaker cheese’ into Google.”)
I imagine that this was the most popular of the McSalad Shakers. I mean, it was either this or the Chicken Caesar. The only McSalad Shaker left was the GARDEN one — a Shaker so milquetoast I can barely stand to say its name.
For my Chef McSalad Shaker, I used french dressing. Wait, am I supposed to be capitalizing these things? FRENCH dressing. CAESAR salad. JACK cheese. I guess I could look it up, but again, I hate research.
I’m not big on ham and I only picked french dressing because it’s the same color as Car Fox. This was good, but it was no Grilled Chicken Caesar McSalad Shaker. The next time I decide to eat out of a 20-year-old plastic cup that was used by total strangers, it’ll be for that Shaker.
I read that McSalad Shakers were discontinued in 2003. I don’t know if a three-year run qualifies them as a success, but FWIW, three years is how long it takes for sitcoms to get some of that sweet syndication money. So maybe?
I suppose it’s possible that McSalad Shakers didn’t perform well, given that half of you looked at these pictures and freaked out over what appeared to be liquid salad. Y’all can be so wrong, sometimes. McSalad Shakers were blessed and bright.