Never be disappointed again ...
*Originally published on October 26, 2020
Updated in 2023:
If there are two things McDonald's has built a solid reputation on, it's serving up the best french fries—and having an ice cream machine that is always broken. There's honestly nothing more irritating than ordering a McFlurry, only to be told the ice cream machine is down. Surely, one would think it's about time McDonald's stepped up to the plate to fix their iconic ice cream machine issue, but leave it to the internet to push owners into enacting change.
In 2020, a then-24-year-old software engineer named Rashid Zahid set out to see just how accurate the brand's reputation of having a broken ice cream machine was—and thus, mcbroken.com was born.
Courtesy of mcbroken.com
His efforts started in Berlin, where he built a bot that scoured the city's McDonald's locations via the McDonald's app. His bot was simple; he programmed software to see how many McDonald's locations would allow him to purchase a soft-serve ice cream treat through their app. When the app caught on to his antics, it labeled him as a bot, so he had to do some tweaking in order to continue the experiment.
Once Zahid figured out a new timeframe of when to have his bot add a soft-serve item to his shopping cart (every 30 minutes instead of 5 minutes), Zahid was able to collect his data.
With his data in hand, he launched the website McBroken.com in Germany first, where he had his bot analyze 1,500 McDonald's locations. If he tried to place an order for a soft-serve item at McDonald's and was unable to because the item was "currently unavailable," this was an indication that the machine was broken.
A location with a broken ice cream machine was labeled with a red dot on his website, while a location with a working machine was labeled with a green dot. After further troubleshooting to test the website's accuracy, coupled with Twitter users confirming the results, Zahid was ready to make it go live in the United States. Zahid shared with The Verge.
"I was like, this would be pretty interesting for Germany, but it would be amazing for the US, which is basically the capital of McDonald's," Zahid said.
In less than half an hour after going live, his site hit 10,000 visitors. Now, McBroken is an interactive app that lets users search their neighborhood (or the United States if they're feeling curious) for broken McDonald's ice cream machines. There's even a neat feature that breaks down the percentage of how many machines are broken in different cities.
The status of Washington, D.C.'s ice cream machines, according to mcbroken.com
McDonald's response to this unusual civic duty? Well, the VP of the restaurant's U.S. Communication tweeted in praise of the young man's dedication, saying, "Only a true @McDonalds fan would go to these lengths to help customers get our delicious ice cream! So, thanks! We know we have some opportunities to consistently satisfy even more customers with sweet treats and we will."