Zaxby's Milkshakes Are Back—But Only In One Place

Macon, Georgia has teamed up with Zaxby's in its bid to become “the milkshake capital of the world.”

There was a chill in the bones of Zaxby's fans across the country on December 6, 2017 as the Georgia-born chicken finger chain announced it had spun its last milkshake. "Sadly, we are discontinuing our milkshakes because it was time for the boys to leave the yard," the brand's tweet read. Goodbye, birthday cake milkshake. Farewell, chocolate cookie shake. So long, banana pudding shake. Adieu, caramel pecan pie and brownie batter, adieu.

People processed their grief in various ways. In June 2018, a petition gathered 1,675 signatures demanding the return of Zaxby's milkshakes. Just two years ago, a Reddit thread on r/Zaxbys dramatically titled "I will never forgive them for this" received multiple comments bemoaning the loss of the shakes. But as of this week, fans rejoiced as two seemingly improbable things happened: Zaxby's brought back its milkshakes and the city of Macon, Georgia announced its bid to become "the milkshake capital of America."

Why Zaxby’s and Macon are collaborating on milkshakes

Out of 900 restaurants nationwide, only 21 Zaxby's locations were selected for this dessert resurrection, with the highest concentrations in and around Macon, the "Heart of Georgia." Which tracks, considering the fast food chain's roots.


According to the joint press release, "Visit Macon is teaming up with the saucy Georgia-based chicken brand for an exclusive market test that invites visitors and locals alike to crave more of Macon's sweet secrets." And it's such a big deal that Macon mayor Lester Miller himself stars in two of the three hilarious commercials Zaxby's developed with the Visit Macon tourism board.

"The return of Zaxby's milkshakes is an exciting development for Macon," Miller said. "We're thrilled to have Zaxby's be part of Team Macon-Bibb and showcase our city as the ultimate destination for milkshake lovers. Together, we're turning Macon into the Milkshake Capital of America!"

Marisa Rodgers, Director of Marketing for Visit Macon, is just as enthused about this new goal for the city. "When Zaxby's selected the Macon area as their test market, and then decided to partner with Visit Macon to invite every one of their fans, in the most playful way, to visit Macon to get one of their famous milkshakes, we literally invented 'milkshake tourism,'" she told The Takeout.


Why Macon? According to Zaxby's chief marketing and strategy officer Patrick Schwing, "After nearly two years of perfecting the original formula, including our legendary Birthday Cake shake, we are excited to bring them back in a market test. Macon is the perfect place to reintroduce our fan-favorite shakes with a refreshed lineup given our strong presence in the market and outstanding franchisee operations."

Where to get a Zaxby’s milkshake

From Zaxby's, we've got a choice of four flavors: Strawberry, featuring chunks of real strawberry; Chocolate with real cocoa; classic Vanilla; and Birthday Cake, blended with rainbow sprinkles and "infused with flavors of freshly baked cake, buttercream, and French vanilla," as per an email from a spokesperson when I demanded further details.


All milkshakes are hand-spun and hand-mixed to order, made with whole milk and real sugar, and come topped with real whipped cream, sprinkles, and a Maraschino cherry. Twenty ounces of these 570-780-calorie treats are being sold for just $4.99, and the shakes are flying out of those drive-thru windows. Which, by the way, is very good news for the rest of the country.

While Zaxby's shakes are currently a limited-time offering in select markets, I asked how long they'd be available and received a coy response. "At Zaxby's, we are always testing new menu innovations to see what resonates with our fans and creates demand in our restaurants," Schwing said. "We take learnings from each test to inform our menu strategy and help us determine which products are right for a national rollout across the system."


In other words, go to Macon, Georgia and vote with your wallets if you really want Zaxby's milkshakes back on your local menus. Or, you know, any of the participating locations in the surrounding area. Five of the 21 restaurants carrying the shakes are in Macon, the center of all the milkshake action, support, and media push, but the other 16 locations aren't terribly far.

Even if the milkshakes do go away, Macon's pretty committed to this whole new "milkshake capital" moniker. Rodgers assures us that the tourism bureau has a grip on the situation no matter where the sprinkles may fall, and Visit Macon is encouraging visitors to go on a milkshake mission across Macon after they've exhausted the Zaxby's flavors.

"Now locally loved businesses that already serve delicious milkshakes, like The Rookery, Lane Southern Orchards, Sweet Eleanor's, and many more will flow right into our new (self-appointed) position as the milkshake capital," Rodgers said. Flavors include The Rookery's Jimmy Carter, a shake with banana ice cream, peanut butter, and a slice of bacon honoring this former president who "used to visit every spring during the annual Capricorn Records picnic."

But this spring, this city can count on plenty of die-hard Zaxby's fans from neighboring cities like Atlanta, Augusta, Montgomery, and even Savannah and Charleston to fall upon Zax milkshakes like Macon's famous cherry blossoms. And since I'm based north of Atlanta, only a couple of hours away, you might just see me there, too.