The McBroken App Shows You Every Broken McFlurry Machine in the U.S.
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The McBroken App Shows You Every Broken McFlurry Machine in the U.S.

Jan 08, 2024

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The McFlurry has always been a source of heartbreak. Long considered one of the best fast-food ice creams, lovers of McDonald's soft-serve know well the sting and rejection of finding out the machine is out of order when they want one. But why do McFlurry machines always seem to be McBroken? Several reasons have been floated, but the mystery may never be totally solved. Luckily for McFlurry fans, help is finally here, in the form an app called McBroken.

McBroken lets you know, in real-time, whether the McFlurry machine at the McDonald's near you is working or is out of order. McBroken was created by software engineer Rashiq Zahid. In the summer of 2020, Zahid tried to order a McSundae through McDonald's mobile app, but couldn't add the item to his cart because it was unavailable. He had an epiphany. "I reverse-engineered McDonald's internal API and I’m currently placing an order worth $18,752 every minute at every McDonald's in the United States to figure out which locations have a broken ice cream machine," he said in a tweet.

Now, on a map, displays every McDonald's in the United States as either a green or red dot, depending on whether the McFlurry machine is working. The app also shows updates with the overall percentage of broken machines, as well as a breakdown by major cities. As we post this, more than 13% of machines are broken nationwide. In New York, a whopping 40% of machines are out of order.

There are a number of reasons, but they don't all add up. According to a 2017 article in the Wall Street Journal, the reason most given is that the McDonald's ice cream machines take nearly four hours to clean and sanitize, and this process must be done every day. McDonald's employees usually tell you the same thing. So when the machine is being cleaned during opening hours, ice cream cannot be served. Likewise, during busy times at the restaurant, the staff has no time to do the cleaning.

A more controversial reason is that only technicians from the company that produces McFlurry machines, Taylor, are allowed to service them. As Wired explained in a 2021 report, the set-up is "nothing short of a milkshake shakedown: Sell franchisees a complicated and fragile machine. Prevent them from figuring out why it constantly breaks. Take a cut of the distributors’ profit from the repairs."

At one point in 2017, the problem became such a headache that McDonald's announced that they were going to replace its current ice cream machines with ones that are easier to maintain. That change never seemed to take place. When another company, called Kytch, tried to create a machine workaround for McDonald's, they became embroiled in a lawsuit, according to Wired.

So, for now, the mystery of why McFlurry machines continue being of order may be unsolved. But with the McBroken app, at least you’ll know ahead of time!