How To Avoid Every Broken McDonald’s Ice Cream Machine In The U.S.

by SharonKurheg

It’s been a running joke for years. You’ve been traveling for miles and need a break. You check to see what’s at the next exit (here’s how you can do that) and YES, there’s a McDonald’s coming up!

So you get off the highway, craving a McFlurry or a shake. You put in your order and the employee says those 6 horrible words:

“The ice cream machine is broken.”


To be fair, sometimes the machine isn’t actually broken. Sometimes it’s in the middle of being cleaned. But either way, it’s disappointing.

Welp, there’s finally a website that can avoid all that disappointment. It’s called McBroken and its sole purpose is to point out which McDonald’s ice cream machines are currently working, and which ones aren’t.

McBroken is the brainchild of Rashiq Zahid. He visited a McDonald’s in Berlin over the summer, went to the touchscreen and ordered a McSundae. But it wouldn’t let him. So he tried with the McDonald’s app and again, the McSundae was listed as “currently unavailable.” A friend clued him in that usually meant the ice cream machine was broken or being cleaned.

A software engineer by trade, Zahid decided there had to be a way to know ahead of time if a McDonald’s ice cream machine was working or not, and which ones did and didn’t work at any given time.

“I love poking around in different apps and just looking at the security features and the internal APIs,” Zahid said. “I am pretty familiar with how to reverse-engineer apps. I was like ‘Okay, this should be pretty easy.”

So he got to work and created an API (application programming interface) that would work with the McDonald’s app. After a few false starts, he got the program down pat – his bot would try to put a McSundae into every “cart” of every McDonald’s in Berlin every 30 minutes. If the app said the treat wasn’t available, he’d know the ice cream machine wasn’t working.

With consistent success of the 1,500 McDonald’s in Germany, Zahid set his sights on a much larger goal: the U.S. He converted his bot’s information into a website and that’s how McBroken was formed.

The site is simple enough – it’s an interactive map of the U.S. and you can zoom in as much as you want to find your McDonald’s of choice. A green dot means the ice cream machine is working, a red dot means it’s not. Here’s the map in my neck of the woods:

And, zoomed in even more, the Garment District of New York City:

He even lists the percentage of broken/not working McDonald’s ice cream machines in different cities. For example:

  • 22.22% in Boston
  • 19.35% in Philadelphia
  • 7.69% in San Jose

The site is new and there’s always concern that McDonald’s could shut him down. But if it’s any indication, McDonald’s VP of US Communications, David Tovar, seems to be supportive. He recently tweeted, “Only a true @McDonalds fan would go to these lengths to help customers get our delicious ice cream!”


Fingers crossed that McBroken doesn’t become McBroken, itself!

H/T: The Verge (and Kate O., who helped with her previous McDonald’s expertise ;-))

Feature Image: Alpha/flickr

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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