McBroken: How One Programmer Tracks Every Broken McDonalds Ice Cream Machine

A screenshot of the McBroken ice cream map.McBroken

We all love a cheap and delicious McFlurry—when we can get one. McDonald’s ice cream machines always seem to be broken, to the point that many people won’t bother ordering frozen treats at the drive-thru. The solution? A live map that tracks every McDonald’s ice cream machine in real-time.

McBroken is a McDonald’s ice cream-tracking website developed by 24-year-old software engineer Rashiq Zahid. Every McDonald’s restaurant in the US appears on the map as a green or red dot. Green dots stand for locations with a working ice cream machine, while the countless red dots on McBroken denote a non-working ice cream machine.

The McBroken website also displays some ice cream statistics. At the time of writing, 9.89% of McDonald’s ice cream machines are inoperable, with nearly a quarter of the broken machines residing in New York. (To be fair, New York is very McDonald’s-dense. Ice cream machines in New York may break just as often as they do in small towns.)

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 US to figure out which locations have a broken ice cream machine https://t.co/2KsRwAdrMd

— rashiq (@rashiq) October 22, 2020

But how does McBroken know when an ice cream machine is out of order? Programmer Zahid realized that, as McDonald’s ice cream machines go out of order, employees manually mark ice cream as “unavailable” through the McDonald’s mobile app. Every half hour, McBroken attempts to order ice cream from McDonald’s locations across the US, keeping track of locations that refuse to add ice cream products to the mobile shopping cart. (Orders are never paid for, so ice cream is never wasted.)

Zahid first tested McBroken in Germany. According to a report by The Verge, he biked around every location in Berlin to check McBroken’s accuracy. The website, which launched in the US October 22nd, already has over 200,000 visitors. Even the top brass at McDonald’s are excited about McBroken, and McDonald’s VP of US Communications praised the website hours after its launch.

Source: Rashiq Zahid, The Verge

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