• Thomas Luu

Frozen Fracas: The Case of the Elusive McFlurry

A modern American classic: the broken McFlurry machine. A developed stereotype held by McDonald’s is met with a new answer that will put many of those complaints to rest.


First, let’s tackle the origin of all these accounts and jokes about McFlurry machines always being broken. To simply put it, it centers around one very popular word these days: sanitation. As inquiries into the matter by sites like Mentalfloss have unearthed: “Company policy dictates that each machine undergo a thorough four-hour cleaning process to kill bacteria, which involves partial disassembly and can put the machine out of commission during off-peak hours on a daily basis.” When combined with minimum wage workers, who may not be the most eager to reassemble the equipment, as well as prepare perishable ingredients for just a single McFlurry, passing it off as “the machine is broken” is a very sweet substitute.

Furthermore, the Wall Street Journal probed even deeper into the matter, gaining specifics into the manual that specifies the cleaning process being a whopping eleven-steps long and noting that the machines themselves are prone to malfunction. In a poll conducted by the Journal’s Julie Jargon, “a 2000 survey by a franchise consultant found that 25 of 100 restaurants polled said the ice cream units weren’t working properly.”

An Unexpected Initiative

If you were to Google search the McFlurry, you may catch wind of a new consumer-driven innovation: mcbroken. Developed by software engineer, Rashiq Zahid, this app simply displays the functionality of all McFlurry machines every half hour by having a bot to place orders to each McDonald’s establishment in the US, a total worth $18,752 he tweeted. Fortunately, these transactions are not finalized, they merely test to see if the McFlurry’s are selectable on each menu at regular intervals. He originally tested this in Berlin and found that it was a success, then thought to expand it to the McDonald’s capital of the world: the United States.

The Aftermath

What started out as a small experiment abroad turned into a sensation here at home. Not only has high traffic to the site caused a crash on one occasion, but higher ups in the franchise’s chain took notice to it. David Tovar, McDonald’s Vice President of Communications in the US, complimented the lengths he went through to help provide more ice cream to customers. In addition, McDonald’s USA shared a statement with Fox News that reassured customers “… [they] are regularly working with [their] franchisees and suppliers on improving and enhancing the restaurant experience.” However, one phrase of their statement raises a possible question on the future of corporate business: “customer-innovated solutions” as they put it. Could it be the beginning of a trend where consumers play a larger role in fixing the systems they hold near and dear to them or could it be an incentive for corporations to leave problems for their customers to research and fix without pay? In an age where corporate and individual pursuits are growing simultaneously, they are questions that will not take long to see the answer to.

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