Software engineer Rashiq Zahid seems to understand how frustrating a broken McDonald's ice cream machine can be. So he went ahead and did us all a favor: he made McBroken. On Twitter, Zahid explained, "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."
Don't worry. Zahid isn't ruining the life of the average McDonald's data analyst. "McDonald's keeps track which locations have a broken machine," Zahid tweeted. "I'm merely querying for those; no order gets executed, no ice cream is actually wasted."
McBroken is a follow-up to the odd things happening at McDonald's, as The Wall Street Journal previously reported earlier in 2020. The company's signature and popular McFlurry always seems to be mysteriously absent, much less eaten. People have taken to social media to complain about the ever-elusive soft-serve treat, which can be combined with M&M's or Oreo bits. You know how it goes.
It sounds hilarious because it is. But considering what's going on right now with a pandemic, mass unemployment, influencers cosplaying as saviors online, and systemic racial injustice, an absent McFlurry is the least of our problems. Still, here are some theories that may explain what the curious hell is going on with McDonald's dessert ice cream products — a sweet treat that may result in a $255 million loss, per Quantifind, in United States sales if it isn't brought back to customers.
The running theories — Desperate times call for desperate theories. For a public that almost worships the McFlurry as a midnight sugar-laden treat carrying at least 900 calories in one sitting, the statement that "our machine isn't working" is simply verboten. Here's what customers think is happening:
- Some think that McDonald's employees simply don't want to be bothered with making the McFlurry. This is almost plausible considering the physically draining hours and unacceptable wages these exhausted workers go through. Cut 'em some slack.
- Yet another theory is that McDonald's doesn't create the ice cream itself; it sells it from a third party. This is one of those out-there ideas.
- In the most outlandish theory, some have openly mused about the multiverse theory claiming that McDonald's is situated in another dimension where the machine actually does run. No.
The most believable theory — The most popular explanation (and coincidentally the most realistic one) is that McDonald's employees don't want to clean the machines, especially with joints running all 24 hours. It makes sense considering how laborious the entire four-hour and 11-step ordeal is. It requires a sanitizing solution, hot water, removal and rinsing of the machine's bits, and more.
So when a customer shows up at night asking for a McFlurry, The Wall Street Journal reports that workers who are cleaning the machine might understandably say "it's down." It's not clear how this could impact McDonald's sales but it's worth keeping in mind that the McFlurry makes up 14 percent of the company's dessert items.
"Everything about the machine is just miserable," a former McDonald's employee told The Wall Street Journal. "If someone came in 30 minutes before closing and ordered a McFlurry, would you want to risk something else splattering all over the area you just wiped? No." It's not the end of the world but to some, not getting a McFlurry sounds like a war crime. If you're one of those sensitive ones itching for a McFlurry, Zahid's McBroken might lessen your pain.