Countless diners have been let down by McDonald’s famously unreliable ice cream machines — but a new website aims to help them avoid the crushing disappointment.
The “McBroken” app uses the magic of automation to check whether each one of the Golden Arches’ US restaurants has ice cream available. The app places a red dot on a map for each location with a broken machine and a green dot for every store currently dishing up McFlurries and $1 vanilla cones.
The website, created by software engineer Rashiq Zahid, makes it easy to see how many ice cream machines are out of commission in one’s local area as well as nationwide. For instance, roughly 24 percent of McDonald’s New York stores didn’t have ice cream as of 10:30 a.m. Friday, the app showed, compared with just about 9.9 percent for the entire US.
Rather than call up McDonald’s more than 14,000 US stores for their ice cream status, Zahid has computers do the work for him.
The program he built tries to order a McSundae from each restaurant through the McDonald’s app every 30 minutes, according to The Verge. The McDonald’s app blocks users from ordering items that aren’t available at a particular store, so if Zahid’s bot can’t add the sundae to its cart, that indicates the ice cream machine is down.
Zahid told The Verge that he tested his methodology in Berlin by biking to each McDonald’s store and ordering sundaes to check that his bot was accurately reflecting whether ice cream was being served. The American version of the tool attracted 200,000 unique visitors after Zahid launched it Thursday, he said on Twitter.
“I just made it for fun,” Zahid told The Verge. “But people were like ‘Wow, this is the best thing I’ve seen this entire week.’”
The site even won praise from McDonald’s executive David Tovar, who thanked Zahid for his dedication to ice cream availability.
“Only a true [McDonald’s] fan would go to these lengths to help customers get our delicious ice cream!” Tovar, the fast-food giant’s vice president of US communications and government relations, said on Twitter. “We know we have some opportunities to consistently satisfy even more customers with sweet treats and we will.”