Later this week, 18 McDonald's restaurants will be giving away a "limited edition, and probably-more-revolutionary-than-actually-needed Suction Tube for Reverse Axial Withdrawal (STRAW)."

But before you assume STRAW is just a publicity stunt, read on. The story of the device's invention was published on Fast Company, which describes how it was engineered by "creative minds that helped birth Google’s Project Ara modular smartphone and projects for NASA and DARPA." It was designed specifically to help someone consume McDonald's new two-layer Chocolate Shamrock Shake to get some of the chocolate layer and some of the shamrock layer with each sip, while having the added benefit of not collapsing on itself during the sucking process and causing "fish face," that well-known, cheek-collapsing moment we've all experienced.

The J-shaped design has two holes on the short side of the J, and they allow the user to such in some chocolate and some minty-shamrock simultaneously. Once the milkshake gets below those two holes, the hole on the bottom of the J's curve takes over, and "as long as there's shake coming through the bottom, you close off the pressure system to the tip of the J" so air won't come in through other holes.

In the thoroughly tongue-in-unsunken-cheek video above that McDonald's released about the STRAW, the company admits it's "a spectacularly necessary product" and calls it a "truly frivolous, but actually kind of a break through and pretty cool STRAW." It won't make a Shamrock Shake taste any better though.

Who knows what other uses might be found for the STRAW now that really smart minds have created it? If you want to get your hands on one, it won't be easy. McDonald's is giving only 2,000 away through the participating restaurants starting Feb. 24. The list of nationwide restaurants giving them away on a first-come, first-served basis is available on McDonalds.com.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.